Floyd Buhler of Kenton has been nominated to carry the Liberal banner in the Arthur-Virden provincial byelection this month.
If elected, Buhler said he hopes to serve as a strong voice in the legislature.
"I think that’s the key that’s been missing for the last 20 years, ever since the inception of the Arthur-Virden riding," said Buhler, who is a safety adviser with the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association. "Instead of putting a new backbencher into the legislature, I think we should put someone that can actually speak for the region and bring local issues right to the legislature."
Premier Greg Selinger called the Jan. 28 byelection last month to fill the seat left vacant by Progressive Conservative Larry Maguire, who resigned to run in the Brandon-Souris federal byelection in November. Maguire had represented the area provincially since 1999.
The constituency includes Virden, Elkhorn, Oak Lake, Hartney, Deloraine, Melita, Reston and Boissevain. The Tories have held the seat since the constituency was created in 1989.
Buhler said it’s time Arthur-Virden has a fresh voice.
"We have no voice because the PC holds the riding and there’s no incentive for them to do anything," he said. "We can invite another PC to sit in the legislature, take up a seat and do nothing or we can vote for someone to actually affect change."
The area’s debilitating roads are a "daily battle for us," Buhler said of his top priority.
Prior to working with the MHCA, Buhler was the chief administrative officer for the RM of Wallace. He is also currently an emergency measures co-ordinator for six area municipalities.
Buhler said those administrative roles have given him an in-depth understanding of issues on both the municipal and provincial levels.
"The administrative role has definitely helped me see the issues within the region and across the province as well," he said. "A lot of the issues are still the same."
Married with two young children, Buhler sees a need for more development in the region to help create a sustainable economy.
"We’re seeing middle classes being eroded everywhere and we need to stand up for those people and help them build a better future."
Manitoba Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said she’s confident Buhler has the ability to connect with voters in the southwestern Manitoba constituency.
"I had the opportunity to canvass with Floyd during the federal Brandon-Souris byelection and I was very impressed with his charisma and the way people opened up to him," Bokhari said in a media release issued Friday. "With Floyd, the people of Arthur-Virden have a strong local candidate who genuinely wants to speak up for their concerns in the Manitoba legislature."
Last month, Bob Senff was acclaimed as the NDP candidate, while the Progressive Conservatives chose Doyle Piwniuk to carry the party banner on Jan. 28.
A byelection in Morris to replace former MLA Mavis Taillieu will also be held on Jan. 28. Nominations for both constituencies will close on
Jan. 13. Advance polls will be held Jan. 18-25. On voting day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Buhler said he plans to spend the remaining weeks leading up to the byelection visiting as many communities as possible.
"If the weather gets nice, probably knock on a few doors," he said. "Just let people know it’s not just the status quo anymore. We can make a difference here."