Stefan Rumpel will be a little more vocal during his second foray into provincial politics after being selected as the Saskatchewan NDP candidate in the Swift Current Constituency for the fall provincial election.
Previously Rumpel was the NDP candidate in the March 1,2018 Swift Current Constituency by-election, placing as runner-up to Everett Hindley by earning 1,243 votes for 24.2 per cent of the vote.
Rumpel was proclaimed the local candidate during a zoom meeting on May 27.
“It’s definitely a change from the normal. We’re all dealing with making concessions and trying different things through this,” Rumpel admitted following last Wednesday’s nomination meeting.
“In a way it was a positive because you have an opportunity to get Ryan (Meili) there to speak to members, which you don’t necessarily always have access to when he’s all over the province for different things. My hope would be going forward, what we learned from it is there’s an opportunity to have that sort of situation with technology that even if we are doing a meeting as a group in person and he’s not able to be there in person, there’s no reason to not conference call in quick just to touch base. That communication piece is something that I think we’ve learned how to use better.”
Rumpel said that now he is the official candidate, there are a number of challenges ahead caused by the current realities of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
“The biggest challenge is obviously the fact that we don’t know what the campaign will look like, what restrictions will be on physical distancing policies still in place. So it’ll be different that normal. In the last one and in typical campaigns you’re out door knocking, you’re meeting people on the streets and you’re going to events and you’re talking to people. And that might not be the case come October. There might be differences in the way things go, and it may be a much more digital, phone and advertising based campaign. So the challenge will be getting our message about how we want to come out of this situation with bold ideas, more resilient, and more able to adapt to these challenges in the future. And we’ll have to do that in a different way than we’ve had to in the past.”
Despite the challenges, he personally feels excited to be launching another campaign.
“I’m excited to get it going. And I’m lucky that I have really supportive friends and family that are very talented and very intelligent and very helpful. And I always lean on people when I know they have strengths that I don’t. We have a really good group so I think we’re excited to get moving forward.”
Rumpel feels the SaskParty government has become further disconnected to regular citizens during their term in office.
“For me, I think that this pandemic situation that has been hard on a lot of people has really highlighted the number one reason that I wanted to get involved politically to begin with – which is the fact that the SaskParty for a really long time have seemed disconnected from regular people and more connected with their party insiders and donors. And I want to see us get to work on communicating and reaching out to the people on the ground floor. Specifically, we know students have been hurt over the past 10 years losing supports in their buildings due to a lack of funding in education. We know there’s been staffing shortages in senior care homes, and there were policies removed to make sure that the standard of living in some of those places was up to snuff. And that’s just not OK.”
“The other group is small business. Local economies thrive when people have money to spend in that economy. And the problem that we have right now is there’s going to be financial struggles. I don’t see how we can come out of this without raising our minimum wage to get more money into people’s pockets so that they can get out and contribute to local business. Because we know its your lower income earners that are buying local because they have to. Because they live here and they don’t have access to trips to the States to go pick stuff up. So if we raise that minimum wage we’ll see our small businesses thrive because they’ll have an opportunity to have more people accessing their services.”
He is also concerned with the provincial government pandemic spending direction aimed at business instead of workers, and the level of debt individuals will be facing to pay for this response.
“That is something that I know people are concerned about and I’ve been concerned about – our rising debt is not going to get better through this in Saskatchewan. And the realty is is money is going to have to be spent on economic recovery. The question is where do we want that money spent? And I think that’s where the NDP and the SaskParty differ the most. I want to see it going to people, and I think that’s our easiest boost to a local economy. And I want to make sure that it’s not being taken out of healthcare and education, because those two areas you can’t let those fall.”
Rumpel said one of the biggest lessons he learned from the last election campaign was the importance of reaching out to a wider network of people to share the NDP message.
“The biggest lesson I think is to put myself out there more. A little more loudly, a little more proudly. I’m very proud to be a member of Ryan Meili’s team. He’s a really down to earth and great leader, with really good ideas for this province. And I hope more people in Swift Current and Saskatchewan will be proud to have a different view that maybe what’s been the norm. It’s not an attack. It’s not a negative. It’s just different. And different isn’t bad. It can be better. And especially if we have more voices at the table we can get a more round view. So I want to be louder. I want to reach out to more people and not be afraid to say ‘hey, would you consider jumping in on our team and being part of this?’ That was the biggest take away for me.”