WHAT’S expected to be a several-person contest for the NDP nomination in the Skeena riding for the next provincial election began Aug. 21 when one prospective candidate hosted a meeting to gauge support.
Sarah Zimmerman said she’s been speaking to people individually but decided a public session was also needed.
No official nomination meeting date has been set by the NDP but one is expected at least by late fall.
“In order to vote, a person needs to be a member [of the NDP] for 90 days so I thought it was pretty important to get a sense of my support,” said Zimmerman.
“The election is only nine months out so it seems important to engage with the community.”
Zimmerman, on maternity leave from her job as communications and public relations director at Northwest Community College, said she’s been thinking of running for public office for years and joined the NDP in April.
“The NDP appealed to me because it’s traditional values are ones that reflect my own – equality among people, investment in social services such as health care, education, low income housing and child care,” she said.
“But particularly since the last election, as someone who has been active in the business community for most of my career in the Skeena riding, I feel alienated by the Liberal party and its rhetoric characterizing people who don’t support all investment as being part of the so-called ‘forces of no,’” she said.
“This lumping together of anyone who questions certain investments or projects for the area, as being part of some movement that says no to everything is short sighted, divisive and excludes a huge part of the area’s population who want to see prosperity and investment for the region, but want to balance that with protecting the environment and our coastline.”
Zimmerman and any other candidates for the nomination must first be vetted by the NDP’s provincial office before they can officially become candidates for the nomination.
Current NDP Skeena MLA Robin Austin, who has held the riding through three elections and since 2005, announced earlier this year he wouldn’t run again.
Speaking while in Terrace last week, provincial NDP leader John Horgan said he appreciated Austin’s service to the riding and in the legislature and that he was looking forward to the selection of the next NDP candidate.
Austin’s retirement sets in play a provincial NDP policy that when a sitting NDP MLA who is a white male decides not to run again, the party looks for a new candidate who is either a woman, a First Nations person, a visible minority, a person who is disabled or a person who is of a sexual orientation not traditionally considered part of mainstream society.
That shouldn’t be taken as excluding white males, said Horgan, adding that those elected to the legislature should represent every facet of the province’s population.
The provincial BC Liberal party has also yet to set a date for its nomination meeting.