Beverley DeSantis, CEO of Tourism Kamloops, is the first Conservative to seek the nomination to replace outgoing MP Cathy McLeod.
DeSantis announced her bid for the nomination Feb. 17, just two weeks after McLeod said she will not seek re-election. Although she has only lived in the area since 2016, she said she has fallen in love with it and that’s driven her to put her name forward.
“Kamloops is an area where people are very friendly and there’s a community of entrepreneurs, which I love. They’re people who work hard, play hard and enjoy the outdoors in their backyard,” DeSantis said. “It’s a small city with a big city identity.”
Raised in Alberta, this is not DeSantis’ foray into politics. She previously worked with the Conservative Party in Alberta, ran for a nomination in Calgary and did some work for the Alberta government as an academic.
While Kamloops is her home base, DeSantis has made an effort to explore the region, usually during an annual trip with her grandson. Her job has also allowed her to form different partnerships and friendships throughout the region, including with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association.
“The experience that I have in all areas from government, public service and private sector, I believe makes me a really viable candidate to understand the needs of the community and how we can rebuild coming out of COVID-19,” DeSantis said. “I believe strongly that now is the best time to put my foot forward and really help our community move forward out of the economic problems that we’re facing right now.”
At 57, DeSantis said she’s young enough to do the job but old enough to have the experience and understanding of the commitment it will take.
As a fiscal conservative, she feels restraint and practicality are what will be needed moving forward.
DeSantis said her strongest opinion about politics is there will be those who vote for you and those who vote against you. If you end up taking office, however, you need to do your best to honour the concerns of both of these groups and listen to the whole community to bring them together.
Should she get the nomination, DeSantis recognizes the issues of Kamloops may not be the same as those faced in 100 Mile House.
As a result, she said a big part of running for MP will be travelling around the region and getting to know each community and what is important to them.
“For me to assume I know what those big issues are right now, I don’t, and I think that’s where the conversation needs to go. What is going to move forward as a constituency and how can I bring that voice to Ottawa?”
Michael Grenier, the original developer and founder of Tobiano, is also seeking the nomination.
Grenier announced his decision on Monday, Feb. 22.