By the time Federal Conservative candidate Tracy Gray winds up the campaign, she will have been knocking on doors for a year. And if she continues at the same pace, it's likely to be about 30,000 residences by the time voters go to the polls. "It really does force you to get out into the community," said Gray. The entrepreneur and former city councillor took a break from all that for an interview with KelownaNow.
Gray credits her face-to-face political style for her victory over rival Renee Wasylyk for the Conservative Nomination. That also had her door knocking at 2,000 businesses in the riding. "That was in addition to doing all of the smaller meet and greets and going into seniors' homes and being invited into businesses."
Gray describes the Conservative nomination race which pitted her against high-profile businesswoman Renee Wasylyk as "healthy" and "rigorous". But after the April 6, vote there was one thing missing. Often, a losing candidate will offer a concession speech and urge supporters to get behind the winner. That didn't happen in this case.
"Everybody deals with situations differently," said Gray, when asked about it. "But we have connected and we're going to be getting together over the next couple of weeks." Gray said she's reached out to members of Wasylyk's team and a number of them have joined her campaign.
Contacted via email, Wasylyk is now offering words of support. "As a strong Conservative, I wish Tracy Gray all the best in the Kelowna-Lake Country race ahead," she wrote. "Our democracy was well served with this nomination race and the important issues discussed within it." And as for the give and take of the nomination campaign, Wasylyk sees it as a positive. "I hope that momentum is carried through October," she said.
Gray has experience building a business in Kelowna and she says that's what attracts her to the Conservative Party.
"The heartbeat of our community is small business," she said.
The election of Liberal Stephen Fuhr in 2015 stands out in an area that usually votes the other way, and Gray offered her thoughts on that. "People were looking at the leadership of the party and there seemed to be a lot of people that weren't resonating with Stephen Harper anymore," said Gray. "So it sounds like people wanted a change."
The strategy of getting out and knocking on doors won her the Conservative nomination, so she plans to continue the strategy in the general election campaign.
As Gray and her supporters resume their door-to-door canvassing, she'll be hoping she can convince them to seek change once again.