Courtenay-Comox candidates counting down to election day

All new field of candidates fight for seat held by Liberals since 2001.
On an island that predominately votes NDP,  the Comox Valley Riding (now Courtenay-Comox) has been held by the BC Liberals since 2001 and Jim Benninger wants to see it stay that way. 
“I’m with the BC Liberals and just wonder if you folks have any questions about the election.” he said as he introduced himself to potential voters in a Courtenay coffee shop Tuesday. 
“The people who approached me (to run in the election) felt I had the right mix of personal and professional attributes together with the experience to be a good MLA and a strong voice for the Comox Valley.” he said in an interview with CHEK News. 
The 32-year military veteran and former base commander at 19 Wing Comox lacks political experience but says his management experience makes up for it.
“$30million and $40million budgets when I was Base Commander at CFB Comox from 2011 to 2014, I had a staff of over 1500 military and civilian personnel that we had to pull together so I have that kind of management experience.” he added. 
But Ronna Rae Leonard is hoping to take the seat for the NDP. The former Courtenay city councillor who ran unsuccessfully in the 2011 federally election for the NDP says her experience is what counts.
“Well I’d like to think I know the community a little better than the other candidates having been serving the community for so many years.” she said. 
The three main candidates CHEK spoke to agree that affordable housing is one of the main issues in the riding, but that there are several others they keep hearing about during the election. 
“Child care is often mentioned” said Leonard. “Certainly public eduction, and a lot of seniors are worried about health care. “
Ernie Sellentin is running for the Green Party. 
“The other thing is the whole water issue where we have Timberwest logging a watershed where we get our drinking water and nobody is standing up to them” said Sellentin. “The government, the Liberals haven’t and the NDP didn’t either.”  
Sellentin is a former logger who went back to school to study environmental science and now runs his own small business in Comox. 
“Are the Liberals giving you the healthcare that you need or the schooling that you need” he asked in an interview with CHEK News. “And do you think the NDP’s ties with labour are going to help you any? You know we need move out beyond that and go to a party that’s based in a new age.” 
Voters will have their say on election night next Tuesday.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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