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Thursday, 01 February 2018 10:28

NDP members pick candidate for upcoming by-election in Swift Current

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Saskatchewan NDP interim leader Nicole Sarauer lifts Stefan Rumpel's hand into the air after he was announced to be the winner of the contested nomination meeting, Jan. 28. Saskatchewan NDP interim leader Nicole Sarauer lifts Stefan Rumpel's hand into the air after he was announced to be the winner of the contested nomination meeting, Jan. 28. Matthew Liebenberg

A teacher with strong roots in the community will represent the Saskatchewan NDP in an upcoming by-election in Swift Current.

Stefan Rumpel was elected as the party's candidate during a contested nomination meeting in Swift Current, Jan. 28.
This was the first time in two decades that the Saskatchewan NDP had a contested nomination in Swift Current. The two candidates were both born and raised in the city. Rumpel is a teacher at Swift Current Comprehensive High School. He was opposed by Shaun Hanna, who is a local business manager and entrepreneur.
There were 55 party members at the constituency association meeting who were eligible to vote for the two candidates.
The nomination meeting was attended by Saskatchewan NDP interim leader Nicole Sarauer, who was the guest speaker, and both candidates in the party's current leadership race, Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon.
Rumpel felt honoured, humbled and excited to receive the support of party members at the nomination meeting, but above all he was energized to be the party's candidate.
“Knowing that I get to be the candidate, that I get to be the person moving forward, I thrive when I know I have a goal in mind and I want to see it happen,” he said.
He believes it is important to give attention to what is important to people in the community, and to address those needs in a cooperative way.
“We need to prioritize education, health care, supports for young families in our community, but not only that,” he said. “We need to look at working together. We need people who are willing to collaborate and choose not necessarily what works in one place, but what works for us, and works for everyone.”
His decision to seek the nomination of the NDP in Swift Current was an easy one, because he cares passionately about his family and the students he works with.
“The decisions that are being made by our current government are going to have long-reaching consequences,” he said. “Some we're dealing with right now and some my boys and my students are going to have to deal with in the future.”
He emphasized the need to look at politics in a different way and to focus on issues beyond the next election.
“I'm tired of governments that don't plan beyond the next election cycle,” he said. “We need to bring about governments that instead of focusing on beating the other team, focus on the people they serve, bringing that power back to the people.”
He believes it is important to move away from divisive, negative politics and many people he has spoken to recently have expressed similar sentiments.
“The NDP needs to take the high ground,” he said. “We need to build bridges between people. We need to show people that we can be a positive force for change, that we aren't looking to take from anyone, we're looking to build everyone up. ... When we build everyone up, everyone succeeds.”
Swift Current has been a Saskatchewan Party stronghold since 1999, when the city has been represented by outgoing MLA Brad Wall. Rumpel does not want to be negative or divisive when he speaks to local voters during the upcoming by-election, but he will instead focus on the NDP's vision and why it will work.
“I want people to want to be on my team, because they see positive, exited change that benefits a large number of people,” he said.
The 31-year-old teacher is a husband and father of two children. He has been a teacher at Swift Current Comprehensive High School for eight years, where he runs an award winning drama program. He is also the owner of Swift Current Improvisational Theatre and he is very involved in the community.
He believes his involvement in the community and his responsibilities as a father of two young children provides him with a perspective that will be relevant during the by-election campaign.
“If something happens in education that matters to me,” he said. “If something happens in health care, that's going to affect what goes on if my children are sick or need help. If there are changes to budgets for municipalities and we have to have an increase in our rates for power or an increase to our property taxes and those pieces, well, for my family, the amount of money we have to thrive in this community is affected. ... All of those decisions will affect my pretty prototypical Swift Current family in my opinion and that is why it’ll be so important to me to make the right decisions, or push for the right decisions.”

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Matthew Liebenberg