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Terry Beech gets Liberal nod in Burnaby North-Seymour
At age 18, Terry Beech was B.C.'s youngest-ever elected official when he became a city councillor in Nanaimo in 1999.
Now 15 years later, he's hoping to get back into public service after winning the nomination Wednesday as the federal Liberal candidate for the new riding of Burnaby North-Seymour.
Beech, now 33, said he was always interested in politics and how the country is run, perhaps unusually so for a teenager.
"I paid for cable when I was a teen so I could watch CPAC and pay attention to question period."
He was coaching his high school debate team when he started using Nanaimo city council agendas to find issues to debate for practice, followed by watching the meetings to see what happened.
That's when he got the idea that he could run for office, serve the community and make a difference.
His debate team became his campaign team and he was elected to Nanaimo council. "It turned out to be one of the most fulfilling jobs I've ever had … You actually can see the difference that you're making."
At the end of his three-year term he didn't seek re-election because he moved to Burnaby to attend Simon Fraser University. Since then he's been focused on getting an education and building a career as an entrepreneur and teacher.
Beech has a bachelor degree in business and economics from SFU and an MBA from Oxford University. He co-founded Beech Partners which works with entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups and Hiretheworld.com which serves as a global graphic design marketplace. And he currently serves as an adjunct professor in innovation and entrepreneurship at SFU and the University of B.C.
He was always looking for an opportunity to get back into politics but "I wanted to do it as service, not as a job." That's why he focused on his business and gaining financial stability first.
He told his wife, Ravi, that he'd wait until after their wedding before he made a decision. They were married a year ago and on Wednesday, Ravi and her mom were busy preparing all the food for the riding's nomination meeting at Confederation Centre, where Beech was acclaimed.
He feels the new riding, which now includes North Vancouver and North Burnaby, is winnable. He lives in North Burnaby but is also familiar with North Vancouver, having attended Capilano University at one point.
So far, the issues of most concern he's hearing from constituents is the economy and a need for "a strong focus on an empowered middle class" and making sure "we're providing improved opportunities for future generations."
The proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which terminates in the riding, is also a hot topic.
"I'm concerned the Conservative party has been acting more as a cheerleader for pipelines in B.C. instead of a referee," Beech said. "I'm not convinced the current proposal is the best possible option for Burnaby North-Seymour."
But he said he plans to meet with stakeholders to find out all the facts before taking a position.
Now that he's got the nomination, Beech will start gearing up for the next federal election which will take place in October 2015 or earlier. He's already taken a leave from UBC and will start his leave from SFU at the end of the year.
Beech also appears to have no shortage of fun facts: He has an identical twin brother who also lives in North Burnaby and is his business partner.
"Everybody likes to joke that we can knock on twice as many doors," he said with a laugh.
As for other potential candidates for Burnaby North-Seymour, the New Democrats have two people so far who have declared plans to run for the nomination, Trevor Ritchie and Michael Charrois, said Graham Hallson, president of the NDP's riding association. Their nomination meeting will likely be late this year.
The Conservatives have Mike Little, a District of North Vancouver councillor, and Burnaby resident Daren Hancott vying for that party's nomination.
In the new riding of Burnaby South, current Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart already has the NDP nomination. The Liberals are so far choosing between Adam Pankratz and Ken Beck Lee.