Fraser-Nicola BC Liberal candidate Jackie Tegart loves face to face interaction like she got Friday night in Hope, but most of her campaigning so far has been in the digital realm. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

Fraser-Nicola candidate Jackie Tegart laments loss of face to face campaigning

The twice-elected BC Liberal candidate is forced to campaign differently due to COVID-19

Jackie Tegart usually loves campaigning, and what she loves most about it is people.

Getting out and meeting them, going door to door — she says that’s what gets her energy levels up and keeps her rolling through what can otherwise be a grinding process.

For obvious reasons, this year is different.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, the candidate for the Fraser-Nicola riding is having to do things a different way.

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“The top priority for us is health and safety,” Tegart said, wearing a face mask as she spoke. “We’re doing a lot of social media, signage and print advertising, but you won’t see us knocking on doors because people are tightening up their bubbles and they are gravely concerned.”

Tegart was out and about briefly Friday night. BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson rolled into Hope, stopping at Sixth Avenue Sports and Canyon Cable to talk no-PST with a couple of local business owners.

There was no fanfare. No crowds. Just a small handful of masked-up people.

“It is totally different, and I’m finding campaigning from my kitchen table to be a bit of a challenge,” Tegart said. “When I get up in the morning and I send out emails and I’m on the phone, it’s not the same. There was a concern with many people that with COVID, technology would take the place of personal interaction.

“I think what we’ve found is that technology is great and it has its place, but it will never replace a hug.”

Tegart is in a different position than she was in her previous two campaigns.

Both times, veteran NDPer Harry Lali was her rival. Both times she prevailed, and she doesn’t have to face him a third time.

“Harry had a history and was well known, and when we ran against him the first time he had been serving for 17 years, I think,” Tegart recalled. “We thought we’d run the first time to get name recognition and then beat him the second time. When we were successful in 2013 it was a thrill.”

This time, Tegart’s NDP rival is Aaron Sumexheltza, her Green Party foe is Jonah Timms, and there is the potential for tables to turn. She is now the one with the name recognition, with lesser known candidates trying to do what she did and knock off the incumbent.

“We run like we’re always behind, and we never take a vote for granted,” she said. “At one time, I lost a school board election by one vote, and they actually flipped a coin (to decide it). So when people ask me, ‘How important is one vote,’ I tell them one vote is critically important and we work hard for every one of them.”

She’s also in a riding that has shown a willingness to vote NDP (2005 and 2009) and Liberal (2013 and 2017).

“In the last election there were close races that could have swung the government either way,” Tegart said. “Every riding is important, but a great deal of attention is paid to the ones that go back and forth, and ours is considered a swing riding because last time around we won by about 524 votes.

“We’ve been working from the day the writ dropped. We’ve got signs out already. Things may be different because of the pandemic, but we will be prepared for October 24th.”


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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