Chilliwack-Kent 2020 provincial election candidates, clockwise from bottom left, Kelli Paddon (NDP), Eli Gagne (Libertarian), Jeff Hammersmark (Green), Jason Lum (Independent), and Laurie Throness (BC Liberal).

B.C. VOTES 2020: Chilliwack-Kent, meet your candidates

The 2020 election is October 24

With the snap election coming up on October 24, the hotly-contested race for the Chilliwack-Kent riding is on.

Incumbent Laurie Throness (B.C. Liberals) is running for re-election with four other candiates.

Throness was initially elected as MLA in the Chilliwack-Hope riding in 2013 and re-elected in the recently-realigned Chilliwack-Kent in 2017. He serves as Official Opposition Co-Critic for Transportation and Infrastructure and is a member of the Select Standing Committees on Children and Youth and Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills. He has also served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for Corrections.

RELATED: B.C. VOTES 2020: Leaders promise action on crime, cancer, COVID-19

Throness is a graduate of Canadian Bible College in Regina with a degree in biblical studies and has earned a history degree from Waterloo University and a master’s in public administration from Queen’s University. He pursued a PhD in history at Cambridge University.

Eli Gagne is a member of the Libertarian Party. Gagne has no campaign-related social media or political web presence, but he has a background in real estate throughout the Lower Mainland.

The Libertarian Party is among the smaller parties in the province with candidates in 25 ridings for the 2020 election. The Liberals and NDP currently have 87 candidates and the Greens have 76.

Jeff Hammersmark (B.C. Greens) has informally stood down as a candidate as of Sunday, October 4. He lives in Chilliwack with his family and has worked in the “logistics and supply chain management field,” according to a biography sent to the Chilliwack Progress. he describes himself as a passionate advocate for the environment and the urgency of working for “preserving not only the environmental health of B.C. for generations to come, but also the economic and social health which are inevitably tied to our ecosystem.”

Hammersmark grew up with deaf parents, which he feels gives him a heightened awareness for the “importance of inclusion and the strength of diversity.” His oldest son’s diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder further solidified his stance.

RELATED: B.C. Greens’ election proposals include 4-day work week, free child care

Jason Lum entered the electoral race as an Independent candidate, but he has been endorsed by the Greens. Lum has been a Chilliwack city councillor for the past nine years and is the current chair of the board of directors of the Fraser Valley Regional District. He also sits on the Chilliwack Creative Commission, Fraser Valley Regional Hospital Board and the Parks and Trail Committee.

According to his campaign site, Lum aims to “offer an alternative to status quo party politics,” aiming to make positive changes through advocating for the constituents.

Kelli Paddon is the NDP candidate for Chilliwack-Kent. Paddon has lived in Chilliwack for most of her life and is “passionate about service and building inclusive community.” She has worked in the community living sector for more than 15 years and prides herself on her government relations experience to “support diversity, rights and access to service for the people and families she serves.”

Paddon works as a volunteer supporting youth and victims of crime. She is currently working on her Masters of Arts degree virtually from Athabasca University and has a bachelor’s degree from Carleton University.

The first all-candidates debate will be livestreamed on Wednesday, October 14, at 6 p.m. Participants can submit their questions online by logging on to slido.com; an event code specific to the debate will be available closer to the debate.

The Observer is conducting its own independent Q&A specific to the District of Kent, Harrison Hot Springs and Harrison Mills for an upcoming edition. Please submit your questions to news@ahobserver.com.

How to Vote

Voting registration online and by phone is now closed. However, you can register or update your information in person or when voting by mail. Mail-in packages can be requested online at www.elections.bc.ca.

The general voting location for Agassiz is the Agassiz Agricultural Association Hall at 6800 Pioneer Avenue. In Harrison Hot Springs, the general voting location is Memorial Hall at 290 Esplanade Avenue.

COVID-19 protocols will be in place. If you are ill or self-isolating, do not go to a voting place.

For more information, visit www.elections.bc.ca.

– With files from The Chilliwack Progress

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