KAMLOOPS — Todd Stone walked into the Mountain Room at TRU to his hometown crowd on Tuesday night.
Family, friends, and BC Liberal supporters rallied in support of Stone's bid to become the next leader of the party, hoping to get the Liberals back into government.
"Let me be clear. This is not a time to hang your head low. This is not a time to feel discouraged or defeated," Stone told supporters on Tuesday night. "But rather, this is an opportunity to pick ourselves up, to encourage each other, to reignite the fire that drives our inner soul to make a difference."
Stone is the eighth candidate to join the BC Liberal leadership race. He's also the youngest at 45, something he said works to his advantage. He is hoping to become the first homegrown Interior resident in 31 years to become premier after the late Bill Bennett.
"I think there's a palpable excitement in Kamloops and the regions, and throughout the Interior, at the thought of someone who has deep roots in the Interior," said Stone. "I've worked in mining. I understand the resource sector. I think there's a lot of excitement about the possibility of a leader and future premier from the Interior."
But Stone knows he can't win the race in the Interior alone. He is eyeing support in the north and Lower Mainland, where four Liberal cabinet ministers were defeated in May.
Stone feels he has the support needed around the province.
"We have an outstanding network on the ground that's been built up over many years of working my tail off in the BC Liberal Party," he noted. "Local leaders, community leaders, MLAs, former MLAs, former cabinet ministers. We've got one heck of a strong team."
Stone said he's running because he simply can't watch John Horgan undo what the Liberals built up during 16 years in government.
"Three months into this NDP-Green coalition, the disaster that they are wreaking on our province in only a short time. I can't sit on the sidelines and not try and do something about it," he said. "For me, it was about who would be best positioned to win back those voters in Metro Vancouver that we need, all the while holding the Interior and the north."
Stone has four months to convince BC Liberal members around the province that he's the man before the vote on Feb. 3.
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