March 4 (UPI) -- South Korea's main opposition party chose a former mayor of Seoul to represent conservatives ahead of the city's by-elections in April.
Oh Se-hoon, 60, was selected to represent the People Power Party in the race on Thursday after a two-day poll showed Oh was ahead of rivals in his own party, including former lawmaker Na Kyung-won, Yonhap reported.
The selection came despite Na's lead in other opinion polls, according to the report.
Oh was a two-term mayor who resigned in 2011, after voters rejected his proposal to provide free school meals to children living under the poverty line. Oh had refused to expand the program for all children, citing costs. The former mayor had also pledged to leave office if voters disagreed with his position.
On Thursday Oh said he was ready to return to office to compensate for "past shortcomings," according to KBS.
"By running again, I will be accepting the challenge to 'repay my debts to the people of Seoul,'" Oh said.
The poll that determined Oh's nomination in his party showed him leading at 41.64% over Na, at 36.31%.
Oh faces negotiations with another rival, Ahn Cheol-soo, an independent center-right candidate.
"I hope to discuss constructive cooperation plans with candidate Oh," Ahn said.
In his acceptance speech on Thursday, Oh described the administration of President Moon Jae-in as "reckless" and that the upcoming election must "make a stern judgment," according to Yonhap.
Oh is to face off against the ruling Democratic Party's Park Young-sun, a former startups and small business minister.
Ruling party politicians, including lawmaker Ko Min-jung, said Park is the right candidate to win the election. Ko credited Park for a recent plan to double the production of syringes amid COVID-19 vaccinations, Donga Ilbo reported Thursday.
The Seoul election is being held after the death of former Mayor Park Won-soon in July. Park was found dead as a plaintiff was preparing to accuse him of sexual harassment.