“Premier picks Feb. 2 for two Lower Mainland byelections”

January 5, 2016 – Vancouver Sun – http://www.vancouversun.com/premier+picks+lower+mainland+byelections/11632200/story.html

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Premier Christy Clark has set the by-election date for Feb. 2 for the vacant ridings of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain

VICTORIA — Voters in two Metro Vancouver ridings will elect MLAs next month.

Premier Christy Clark on Tuesday set a Feb. 2 byelection for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

The NDP’s Jenny Kwan resigned her Vancouver-Mount Pleasant seat in July, and Liberal Doug Horne resigned his Coquitlam-Burke Mountain seat in August. Both ran in the federal election. Kwan is now the federal NDP MP for Vancouver East.

The Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding takes in parts of Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam.

The NDP hopes to take it from the Liberals, with candidate Jodie Wickens calling former MLA Horne an “inactive MLA” who was unreachable by constituents.

“People are looking for a fresh voice and good energy,” said Wickens, 33, the executive director of the Autism Support Network.

The Liberals have fielded Joan Isaacs, 60, a financial planner and consultant who has served as a party executive in Coquitlam, Port Moody and on the B.C. Liberal Women’s Network. She said she’s heard calls for more schools, better public safety and increased transportation options, including ride sharing service Uber.

“It’s time that B.C. welcome a sharing economy, like the Uber’s and Airbnb’s and so on,” Isaacs said, adding she’ll take a “consultative approach” to determine how Uber and the existing taxi industry could coexist. Liberal Transportation Minister Todd Stone has repeatedly said Uber is only welcome if its drivers obtain existing taxi licences.

Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, which includes the city’s impoverished Downtown Eastside, has voted NDP for decades and is traditionally considered one B.C.’s safest New Democrat ridings.

“This riding being held so long by the NDP is really sending a statement time and time again that this community stands up for social justice,” said NDP candidate Melanie Mark, a 40-year-old First Nations children’s advocate who most recently worked at the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth.

The riding’s Liberal candidate, Gavin Dew, is a 32-year-old political organizer and consultant who said locals want a “voice at the table” in government.

“It’s been 82 straight years of NDP representation in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and I think that, frankly over however many decades, the NDP have really come to take people in this riding for granted,” he said. “So it’s my opportunity to show John Horgan that there’s no such thing as a safe NDP riding.”

The BC Green candidates are Pete Fry in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Joe Keithley in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

Since 1963, there have been 32 B.C. byelections and only four have been won by members of the governing party (two of those victories came from current premier Clark).

rshaw@vancouversun.com

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