Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster (left) and Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo are excited for the upcoming leadership race within their B.C. Liberal party. (Morning Star file photos)

Local MLAs excited for leadership race

Eric Foster, Greg Kyllo both impressed with list of candidates declared for B.C. Liberal leadership

Greg Kyllo senses renewal in his party.

The Shuswap Liberal MLA was talking about the plethora of candidates that have put their name forward to become leader of the provincial party, replacing former premier Christy Clark.

“It’s a great list of candidates that have come forward,” said Kyllo. “There’s lots of excitement in the party.”

Among those who have officially declared to replace Clark are:

Former Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier, former provincial education minister;

Mike de Jong, 23-year MLA for Abbotsford West who has served six terms. He was appointed finance minister in 2013 after having served as minister of helath, attorney general, minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, labour minister and minister of forests;

Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan. He was first elected to the legislature in 2013, and served as minister of community, sport and cultural development. He was also responsible for TransLink in the Clark government;

Former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. She was elected federally in South Surrey-White Rock in 2015, but announced she was stepping down as MP to chase the B.C. Liberal leadership;

Terrace businesswoman Lucy Sager; has never held political office but has worked behind the scenes for the B.C. Liberals;

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson. Has served as both minister of advanced education and minsiter of technology, innovation and citizens’ services.

Vancouver-Langary MLA Michael Lee. First-term MLA previously served as a special assistant to former prime minister Kim Campbell, and served as parliamentary secretary for housing affordability.

Said to be close to declaring his candidacy is Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, the former transportation minister who was named minister responsible for emergency management in 2015.

If Stone runs, he’s got Kyllo’s support.

“Todd would be an amazing candidate (for leader) for a wide variety of reasons,” said Kyllo, who has expressed no interest himself in putting his name forward.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster is currently the Liberal Caucus whip. He declares himself neutral when it comes to supporting a candidate.

“If I was seen to be supporting one of the candidates out of Caucus, that might look like I was biased,” said Foster, who is excited about the leadership race.

“There’s lots of interest, which is good. A lot of real good people have put their name forward. And, to answer your next question, no, I’m not interested in running.”

Candidates have until Dec. 29 to declare their bid though a party leadership debate is slated for Oct. 15.

The Liberals won’t select a new leader until Feb. 3.