Local candidates off as campaign officially begins

As the real election campaigning season officially starts today, here's what each of the candidates had to say.

Although the candidates have been throwing their views forward for over a month, the real election campaigning season officially starts today. This means that, among other regulations, candidates can spend up to $73,000 on their campaigns from now on, and third-party advertisers, such as the B.C. Teachers Federation, are capped at spending $3,140 in one riding.

The dropping of the writ also means that local candidates are officially, and tensely, off to the races.

Chilliwack-Hope incumbent MLA Gwen O’Mahony, representing the NDP party, will have to defend her position against B.C. Liberal Laurie Throness, who lost out to her in last year’s byelection, and against B.C. Conservative Michael Henshall, who worked to remove the HST.

Meanwhile, she is trying to swing her fellow NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic into a win in the longtime Liberal Chilliwack riding. As Liberal MLA John Les steps down, he frees up the battlefield for five candidates. Joining MacAhonic in the arena is Liberal John Martin, who lost to O’Mahony last year as a B.C. Conservative, and has now jumped ship in favour of the Liberals. There’s also Chad Eros, the current B.C. Conservative candidate who previously ran, unsuccessfully, for city council. Kim Reimer, who led Chilliwack’s anti-water chlorination movement earlier this year, threw her name in the ring as a B.C. Green. And Abbotsford resident Michael Halliday started his own B.C. Excalibur Party, and is vying for control of the Chilliwack riding as well.

Here are each of the candidates’ best two cents on why your vote should be theirs:

Chilliwack-Hope riding:

“They had a unique opportunity to see me in action as an MLA over this past year, and I think I’ve proven myself to be a hard worker, a compassionate listener, and a do-er, not a talker… There was a lot of fear-mongering before I got elected… And I think people woke up the next day to a New Democrat representative who works really hard,” said NDP re-election candidate O’Mahony.

“I believe I’m the best choice for MLA because I mirror the values of Chilliwack-Hope, because I have the experience, training and skills to do an effective job in representing the people of the riding, and because I’m part of a free-enterprise coalition that alone can stop the NDP, and continue to manage B.C.’s economy well,” said Liberal candidate Throness.

“We’ve had 20 years of NDP and Liberal fiscal mismanagement and it’s time to bring back honesty, integrity and transparency in the legislature. That’s something only a B.C. Conservative plan can provide,” said Conservative candidate Henshall.

Chilliwack riding:

“Today’s B.C. Liberals will protect our strong economy by building on our B.C. Jobs Plan that is creating jobs, expanding markets, attracting and encouraging investment. We will secure tomorrow by holding the line on taxes, controlling spending and balancing the budget. The choice is clear; we can keep moving forward and seize the opportunity or risk sliding back when B.C. became a have-not province for the first time in our history,” said Liberal candidate Martin.

“This election is about the voters of Chilliwack having an opportunity to vote for a new government that will bring change for the better. I bring long-term vision and a strong track record of making a positive difference through caring and taking action on behalf of individuals, small business and sustainable resources,” says NDP candidate MacAhonic.

“I believe rewards and incentives for innovation and opportunity are the bedrock and financial source of social responsibility…I acknowledge that times are tough, that the trend to raise taxes proposed by both the Liberals and NDP is not the answer in a recession and is ridiculous, and that layers of taxes make providing for our families and running our businesses difficult,” said Conservative candidate Eros.

“As Chilliwack’s MLA, I will pledge to be accessible to the members of this community and I will value their input. I will put Chilliwack first, unlike the B.C. Liberals or the NDP. I will also work to reform government to return decision-making authority to the local level,” said Green Party candidate Reimer.

“The B.C. Excalibur Party intends to restore truth, honour, justice and transparency to the government of B.C. We believe in balance and that the land, the people and the government should be one,” said B.C. Excalibur Party leader Halliday.

The public will have their first opportunity to hear all major party candidates speak at one forum this Thursday in a meeting organized by the Chamber of Commerce. The free event will be at the Best Western at 12:30 p.m.

Many more such events are scheduled during the coming month.

Most candidates have already opened their offices and launched their campaigns. Green Party candidate Reimer is the latest to the scene. She is officially opening her office at 46136 Yale Road on Friday, April 19, at 11 a.m.

B.C. residents have until next Tuesday, April 23, to register online to vote in the May 14 election. Those who miss the deadline can still vote, but will have to bring sufficient identification to the voting booth.