Cast your ballot on October 20
By Katie Czenczek, News Editor
On October 2, committees from the Moody Park Residents Association and Glenbrooke Residents Association hosted an all-candidates meeting for the upcoming municipal election’s city council hopefuls.
The event was hosted at the New Westminster Evangelical Free Church—which is in Burnaby rather than New West as the moderator, Meg Holden, pointed out—and was completely volunteer-run. Interestingly enough, the majority of attendees at the meeting looked to be from Caucasian backgrounds and over 30 years old. The New West Record and the Other Press volunteered as the press panel for the event and were responsible for asking candidates questions.
The event kicked off at 7 pm, where Holden opened up the ceremony and asked the candidates to deliver 30-second speeches about themselves. There was one official party present at the election, called the New West Progressive Electors Coalition. The candidates representing the New West Progressives are Bryn Ward, Paul McNamara, Ellen Vaillancourt, and Daniel Fontaine.
The independent candidates represent no specific party themselves. The people running in New Westminster as independents are Angela Sealy, Benny Ogden, Mike Ireland, and Troy Hunter.
Finally, and most confusingly, the candidates Chinu Das, Nadine Nakagawa, Mary Trentadue, Chuck Puchmayr, Patrick Johnstone, and Jaimie McEvoy are unofficially running together as Team Cote—or for re-election as the current mayor’s council. This choice to not run unified has been critiqued by residents of New Westminster, who feel that the current council universally agrees on most matters.
The four people running for mayor in New Westminster are Nikki Binns, who is an independent, Harm Woldring with the New West Progressives, Jonathan Cote for Team Cote, and finally Jimmie (James) Bell as another independent.
The all-candidates meeting started off with candidates from opposing parties being given either a warm-up question about the history of New Westminster or a fun question about themselves. Which candidate answered the best according to the crowd determined who would answer the press panel question first.
Topics that were discussed during the candidates questioning period included affordability and housing, road conditions, development, and density. Once all of the candidates had a turn to face off, then the mayoral candidates were brought to the stage.
Harm Woldring spoke first and said that his first priority if elected into council would be to change the tax structure enacted by the previous government.
“The single overriding issue that affects everything—housing, affordability, et cetera—is our tax structure,” he said. “We have a tax system that rewards a very small number of people with a lot of money that costs the rest of us a lot of money. To me, the single overriding issue is fairness, and fairness with taxing is where we need to start.”
Nikki Binns was next and stated that her main concerns were issues around housing and liveability.
“The reason why I’m running is to address traffic, amenities, and housing and affordability,” she said. “We need to be listening to our community”
Jimmie Bell took a different approach during the meeting and talked about his past experience in the workforce.
“I’ve had to do everything and anything to keep those bills coming. I think a lot of you understand what that’s like,” said Bell.
Finally, to end the meeting, current mayor Jonathan Cote said that he is proud of the work his council has done in office and wants to continue making progress with it.
“Moving forward, we do face our challenges,” he said. “I have three top priorities: Number one is housing affordability […] number two is to support a strong local economy […] and the third priority is investing in community facilities we love.”
To watch the entire meeting, check out newwest.tv for full coverage of the event.