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EDITORIAL: Union help helps
What does it take to win a byelection in Coquitlam? Teamwork, organization and union endorsement.
At least that’s the conclusion to be made with the election Saturday of Chris Wilson and Bonita Zarrillo, two relatively fresh faces who will now be facing a steep learning curve at the Coquitlam council table after sewing up their seats with substantial wins Saturday.
Given the relatively flaccid debate and the lack of definitive issues, voter turnout was low (less than 10%) but Wilson and Zarrillo received substantial endorsement from NDP-affiliated politicians and voters, chalking up 26% and 18% of the vote respectively.
Wilson has at least some profile, having run for the New Democrats in the last provincial election, and with his community work for KidSport. Zarrillo is the lesser known of the two but currently serves on her school parent advisory council and the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce’s economic development committee. She certainly benefitted from the connection with Wilson and the two teamed up on mail-outs and used the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.
Although this wasn’t a replay of the recent provincial election, one can’t ignore the value of the New Westminster and District Labour Council (NWDLC) endorsement and the backing of some NDP stalwarts. MP Fin Donnelly and MLA Selina Robinson backed both candidates and the results were impressive.
It’s not unusual for candidates to get either business or union backing, and politics in B.C. is usually defined by this polarization, but these byelection results show once again that groups with a stake in the outcome are for more involved in the democratic process than the average voter. Those who care vote; those who don’t stay home.
While we would like it to be different, people don’t vote unless they think it will make a difference to their lives and many don’t see the connection between civic politics and their lives.
For the most part, Coquitlam voters were happy to leave the decision-making to others and now they have no right to complain about the outcome.