Three local candidates have so far confirmed that they plan to seek election when BC voters go to the polls on Oct. 24, as announced Monday (Sept. 21) by Premier John Horgan.
Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong and Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson – both Liberals – are planning to put their names forward again, although it’s not yet clear whether anyone will be challenging them for the nomination in their ridings.
Bruce Banman, who served as Abbotsford’s mayor from 2011 to 2014, was selected in February by BC Liberal members to represent the Abbotsford South riding.
That riding had been represented by Darryl Plecas, who currently sits as an independent after being booted from the BC Liberal Party in 2017 for accepting the role of Speaker of the legislature.
Plecas confirmed with The News on Monday (Sept. 21) that, as he has stated on previous occasions, he will not be seeking re-election.
Plecas’s term has been shrouded in controversy, particularly with his release of a report early last year on alleged proliferate spending by then Sergeant-at-Arms Garry Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James.
James retired in May 2019 after he was found to have committed workplace misconduct.
Lenz retired on Oct. 1 and later that month was found to have committed neglect of duty. Neither man has been charged with any crimes.
No candidates for the local NDP or Green Party have yet been announced for next month’s election. However, Aird Flavelle, who ran for the Green Party in the Abbotsford South riding in 2017, has indicated he will seek the nomination.
While it had been rumoured for some time, Gibson said the election being called a year early came as a surprise.
“I was frankly quite surprised, given the continued impact of COVID-19 on our citizens. There had been many rumours about the possibility of an election but the announcement was nevertheless a surprise.”
Gibson said he knows what at least one of the election issues will be.
“I believe the public is looking for security and for leadership beyond COVID and how we are going to ensure stability over the coming years.”
Gibson was first elected MLA in the riding in 2013. He was re-elected in May 2017 when he easily defeated NDP candidate Andrew Christie. Gibson picked up 12,080 votes compared to the second-place finisher, Christie, who earned 6,754.
De Jong, a former lawyer, has served as an MLA since being elected in a by-election in 1994. He currently serves as the official opposition’s attorney general critic.
He picked up more than 7,000 votes in the 2017 election, defeating NDP candidate Preet Rai, who garnered around 3,800 votes.
Banman currently serves as an Abbotsford councillor, although he does not chair any committees.
– with a file from Kevin Mills, Mission City Record