Robinson to run provincially
A Coquitlam city councillor who ran for re-election less than a year ago wants to leave that job for a shot at provincial politics.
And that could cost Coquitlam taxpayers big bucks.
On Monday, Coun. Selina Robinson announced she had filed her nomination papers with the BC NDP last week to run in the Coquitlam-Maillardville riding to fill the shoes of MLA Diane Thorne, who announced last week she would not run in next May’s provincial election.
Asked about the decision to potentially leave her council seat so soon after being elected — the last civic election was held Nov. 19, 2011 — Robinson said she didn’t know Thorne would be retiring until last week.
“I’m friends with her and I know she has been talking about it for a long time. I only knew she was retiring when everyone else knew,” said Robinson, an NDP member for about two years and a resident of the riding in which she hopes to run.
As for forcing a byelection — if she wins the NDP nomination and the election — Robinson said it “doesn’t feel good but I also believe that I’m the best candidate to represent the citizens of our community in Victoria.”
The last Coquitlam byelection — held in May 2010 after Fin Donnelly resigned his council job when he won the New Westminster-Coquitlam MP’s seat for the NDP in a 2009 federal byelection — cost Coquitlam taxpayers about $140,000.
(That race was won by Coun. Neal Nicholson, who was re-elected last November in the general election.)
Deputy city clerk Kerri Lore said Tuesday a byelection this term would likely cost about the same.
Robinson, who topped the polls last fall with 9,635 votes, said she doesn’t plan on vacating her civic seat “until we’re into an election mode where I feel I might not be able to do justice to my job. It does make sense to step down at some point and take an unpaid leave so I can focus on getting elected.”
As for her provincial priorities, Robinson said as an MLA, she would address income inequality, affordable housing, job skills and training, especially for youth, and seniors’ issues. As well, she wants to outlaw pesticides in B.C. — a policy she championed in Coquitlam.
“No one will be surprised how important that is to me and I feel that as an MLA I would be able to actually make that happen,” she said.
No date has been set yet for a riding nomination. Under an equity mandate policy that was adopted at last year’s NDP convention, a provincial seat held by a female NDP incumbent is retained for a woman, said party spokesperson Eva Prkachin.
• May 2010: Neal Nicholson replaces Fin Donnelly, who resigned after winning the NDP MP seat for New Westminster-Coquitlam; Nicholson won 2,490 votes over second-place finisher Terry O’Neill, with 1,826 votes. Approximate cost to taxpayers: $140,000.
• March 2007: Neal Nicholson replaces Louella Hollington, who quit to move to Vancouver Island; he won the seat with 1,274 votes over Linda Reimer, with 1,089 votes. Approximate cost to taxpayers: $250,000.