BC ELECTION 2017: Surrey-Whalley has been an NDP stronghold

The riding’s only Liberal elected from 1986 to present was Elayne Brenzinger, for one term, in 2001

The voters of Surrey-Whalley usually elect a New Democratic Party MLA.

The riding’s incumbent, Bruce Ralston, has held Surrey-Whalley for the NDP since 2005 and this time hopes to once again keep his political opponents sidelined. They are Liberal candidate Sargy Chima, Rita Fromholt for the Green Party and George Gidora for the Communist Party.

In the last election Ralston, a lawyer, former Surrey Civic Electors city councillor (1988-93) and B.C. NDP party president, won with 61.43 per cent of the popular vote, defeating runner-up Liberal candidate Kuljeet Kaur by 5,401 votes.

Joan Smallwood had held the riding, which was called Surrey-Guildford-Whalley and then Surrey-Whalley, from 1986 until 1991, when she lost to Liberal Elayne Brenzinger, who won with 45.73 per cent of the vote in the historic NDP routing of 2001. Ralston then won it back four years later, with 55 per cent of the vote.

This time out Chima, the sister of former federal Liberal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal, hopes to shake the riding’s voting trend.

She has served as chairwoman of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Women’s and Human Rights committees as well as vice president of the Pacific Heritage Centre and president of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union Local 20949.

For five years, Fromholt was the sustainability coordinator for the University of Victoria and was also project manager for the Rainforest Solutions Project. Gidora is a bus driver and also the leader of the Communist Party of British Columbia, which in 2013 won 338 votes, or 0.02 per cent of the popular vote.

The latest statistics available has Surrey-Whalley’s population at 58,668 and for 45.90 per cent of its residents, English is a second language. The riding, considered to be one of the “safest” ridings for the NDP to keep, is 27 square kilometres in size and the average age of its residents is 37.5 years.

In the last provincial election, voter turnout in Surrey-Whalley was the second lowest in B.C., with 46.3 per cent turning out to vote.

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tom.zytaruk@ thenownewspaper.com

Surrey Now Leader

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