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It's off to Victoria for Joe Trasolini
A city that former Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini used to visit because he had a beef with government will now be his part-time home after winning the byelection last Thursday in Port Moody-Coquitlam.
On Monday, Trasolini visited Victoria and got a tour of the legislature.
But it will be a few weeks before the newly minted MLA will get to sit with NDP Opposition Leader Adrian Dix in the historic building because Elections BC won't be tallying the final votes until April 30. Still, Trasolini expects to be sworn in by mid-May.
Last Thursday night, after his decisive win, a jovial Trasolini appeared excited by the prospect of heading to Victoria to represent voters and was surprised by the strong endorsement by the 31% of voters who turned out to the polls.
"I didn't believe that kind of reception translated into votes. I'm overwhelmed," said Trasolini, dapper in an orange shirt and conservative suit jacket and tie, flanked by his wife and step-daughter through much of the evening, along with local NDP MLAs such as Diane Thorne (Coquitlam-Maillardville) and Mike Farnworth (Port Coquitlam).
After weeks of speculation, the candidate who surprised many for jumping into the fray as an NDPer, swept into his new post with 6,070 votes, nearly twice as many as BC Liberal candidate Dennis Marsden, who garnered 3,377 votes. Christine Clarke, the BC Conservative candidate, placed a distant third with just 1,720 votes.
Trasolini was long considered a BC Liberal supporters but decided to run for the New Democrats under leader Adrian Dix. Trasolini said he made the choice because the party more closely represented his own "balanced" approach to government.
Still, it's a long road to the next provincial election — 13 months to be exact — and a lot could happen, including the centre-right coalition uniting under a new name. Trasolini believes his choice, and that of the NDP, to run a "positive" campaign struck a chord with voters instead of what he called a U.S.-style negative campaign of his Liberal opponent.
Trasolini gave as good as he got in all-candidates meetings, taking shots at the B.C. government record, but made no personal attacks. The BC Liberals, meanwhile, criticized Trasolini for switching parties and getting in the way of the Evergreen Line — a false claim — while the Conservatives embarked on a letter-writing campaign slamming Trasolini's fiscal record as mayor.
As for how he'll make the switch from civic to provincial politics, Trasolini said it will be easy because voters "want to be heard, they want to be consulted" at every level.
Although transportation would seem to be his bailiwick after his vocal support for rapid transit to Port Moody and Coquitlam, funding for transit that's not based on property taxes, and his battle to get the Murray-Clarke Connector built, Trasolini said he has no preference for a critic's post.
"In anyway I can help this riding and the NDP and the party," is all he would say.
As to whether Trasolini would continue to be an accessible and vocal politician, the combative former mayor promised to return calls and handed the reporter his business card with his cell phone number.
132 of 132 polls
NDP 6,070 54.40%
Lib 3,377 30.24%
CP 1,720 15.36%
Total votes cast: 11,167
Final voting results won't be known until the final count, which begins April 30.