Just days after Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft accepted the NDP nomination for the Columbia River Revelstoke Riding, he has come forward about his sexuality.
Taft did not want this to become an election issue, so he said in a statement, originally published by The Columbia Valley Pioneer, that he identifies himself as bisexual. Taft lives with his girlfriend Nozomi and their young son.
Taft is making this personal information public after receiving criticism for being designated as a “minority” by the NDP, which was the only reason he was able to take the nomination over female candidate Spring Hawes. The NDP has a policy which states any riding held by a retiring male MLA must be reserved for a woman candidate, or also a man of an “equity seeking group” such as a racial minority group, First Nation or LGBTQ member.
Original Story Below:
Golden voters will see a new name on the ballot in the next provincial election, as Gerry Taft, current Mayor of the District of Invermere, has won the nomination to run for the NDP in the Columbia River Revelstoke riding.
He garnered the support of the majority of NDP members at the constituency’s nomination convention in Golden on Saturday and was endorsed by current NDP MLA Norm Macdonald.
“I am very grateful for the support I received from members across the constituency,” said Taft following the announcement of the vote count. “And I am thankful to my nominators and endorsers for the faith they have shown in me. We have a lot of work ahead of us as we build our campaign team across the region, and that work starts today.”
Taft decided to make the leap from municipal to provincial politics after spending 14 years serving in Invermere, all under a Liberal provincial government. He was growing tired and frustrated by the relationship between provincial and local governments.
“Instead of being given the tools that they need, they’re getting road blocks,” said Taft. “Under and NDP government, we’ll see an improvement in that relationship.”
Should Taft be successful in the spring election, he will be faced with serving a much larger constituency than he is used to. Fortunately he now has the opportunity to learn from his predecessor Norm Macdonald while he finishes up his last year on his final term of service.
“Those are some very large shoes to fill, literally and figuratively. Norm has set the bar very high, and we were all sad when he decided not to run again,” said Taft.
“But that gives me the opportunity to learn from him, and should make for a smoother transition. Not a lot of candidates get that, quite often they are just thrust into the position.”
Creating a stronger relationship between local and provincial government is definitely on the priority list for Taft, who says he would also like to open discussions about tax sharing. But he also foresees education and health care to be the top two issues in the upcoming election.
“Especially for an area like ours, the way those services are delivered is always a major issue,” he said.
Taft will be taking on BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok who was beaten by incumbent Macdonald in 2013.
“Mr. Clovechok is going to take another run at it, and he’s even said that he learned a lot of lessons from the last election campaign. He believes that he will now be a better candidate. But I’ve seen absolutely no change in Mr. Clovechok since 2013,” said Taft.
“Everything Mr. Clovechok says is straight out of the BC Liberal playbook. A look at his Facebook and Twitter shows a mindless series of BC Liberal retweets and government press releases. That’s not what the people in this region want to hear. We get enough of that propaganda through government advertising.”
Taft will be launching the BC NDP’s campaign in Columbia River Revelstoke with a tour to each community over the coming weeks. Details will soon be available for the upcoming events.
The NDP have a policy which states any riding held by a retiring male MLA must be reserved for a woman candidate, or also a man of an “equity seeking group” such as a racial minority group, First Nation or LGBTQ member.
Taft said he received approval by NDP headquarters to be designated a minority, but has decided to keep the reason for that designation private.