BYELECTION: Wickens wants to be a voice for families

BC NDP candidate Jodie Wickens talks to reporter Janis Warren about her byelection campaign in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.


Twitter: @jbtwickens
Phone: 604-472-5466

Jodie Wickens figures she has knocked on nearly every door in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by now.

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And, if she hasn't, her campaign team has.

Since winning the nomination Dec. 6, Wickens and her army of volunteers have pounded the pavement — rain or shine, day and night — risen early to wave signs at commuters, even spread the word at a Coquitlam Express hockey game with BC NDP Leader John Horgan.

Her supporters include high-profile MLAs from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island as well as Tri-City politicians of the same political stripe. Coquitlam Coun. Chris Wilson, who ran in the last provincial election for the NDP, is regularly by her side, as is Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson. She is also backed by Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth, Port Coquitlam city councillors Brad West and Glenn Pollock, Coquitlam Coun. Bonita Zarrillo and Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly.

Wickens, who has been a NDP member for two years, regularly posts her activities via Twitter as well as a common message she and her team have been heard from voters: People are looking for a change.

On Burke Mountain, she said, they're unhappy about the lack of schools and public transit. On Westwood Plateau, affordability is the big issue. And in Coquitlam Town Centre, there's concern about the impact of the Evergreen Line when it opens early next year.

They're repeating themes that have big consequences for families and seniors especially, and she points to the BC Liberal government for failing to take action.

"I haven't heard that Doug [Horne] was a strong advocate for the community," Wickens said of the former BC Liberal MLA, adding, "There certainly is a desire and hope that [voters] can have a stronger representation. They believe in me. They trust me. They're concerned about things. I will keep working really hard every day and I think people see that passion."

"They certainly feel that they have missed out on that for a long time," she added.

Her plan is to bring more advocacy to Victoria. On the school front — she ran for a school trustee seat in 2014 — she states, "We need people who will stand up for it and keep putting pressure on it.

The people who are in power need to feel enough pressure. Education is a priority for me and it would be a priority for the BC NDP. When those things are a priority for you, you make them happen."

Wickens said her work with the non-profit Autism Support Network has taught her how to make connections. In her role as executive director, Wickens works with families with autistic children, arranges meetings and helps to prepare them to reach a goal. "When you have a group of people together talking to elected officials about challenges, you have much more power than when you are on your own, by yourself," she said.

And if elected MLA, she said she plans to continue the fight to have families heard. Funding is part of the solution but, for autism, it's complex as no two families have the same needs.

"I feel that, far too often, particularly this government listens only to people at the top and the bureaucrats instead of the families that are going through what I’m going through," said Wickens, whose nine-year-old son has autism. "I have a voice to talk about those challenges and bring those challenges to Victoria."




More than 1,200 voters in the provincial riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain cast their byelection ballots in the advance polls last weekend.

Of the 38,099 registered voters, 667 residents in the neighbourhoods of Westwood Plateau, Burke Mountain and Coquitlam Town Centre made their marks last Saturday while another 540 voted Sunday.

That's more than in the riding of Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant, which had 592 voters last Saturday and 400 Sunday out of 40,000 registered voters.

Both ridings are holding byelections as a result of MLAs running in last October's federal election.

Meanwhile, early voting will restart Wednesday and run until Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at three locations: Evergreen Cultural Centre, and Panorama Heights and Coquitlam River elementary schools.

General election day is Feb. 2.

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