Year in review: Labour’s hold on the city slips

The ‘rage against the machine’ award

A strange and unexpected thing happened this year – the labour-endorsed candidate in the school trustee byelection didn’t win.

When Dee Beattie put her name forward as school trustee candidate, she was a relative unknown, but an endorsement by the New Westminster and District Labour Council changed all that.

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Soon the city’s labour-friendly council members and trustees came out in support of the candidate. Even the mayor himself gave Beattie a ringing endorsement followed closely behind New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy. In fact, almost every previously labour-endorsed elected official in the city made a donation to Beattie’s campaign. (The ones that didn’t were: Coun. Jaimie McEvoy and Lorrie Williams and trustee Michael Ewen.)

In addition to support, Beattie also received more than $12,000 in contributions, including nearly a dozen donations from unions in the region.

But when it came time to vote, Beattie fell short, losing to competitor Mary Lalji by a mere 60 votes.

Unlike Beattie, Lalji ran an independent campaign. She did not accept any donations and received only one contribution – some old signs from former city council candidate Tej Kainth.

Lalji’s win means there are now two non-labour endorsed trustees on the New Westminster school board. And labour may soon lose one of their chosen trustees.

That third trustee is former school board chair Jonina Campbell who, in October, secured the B.C. Green Party nomination to run for MLA in New Westminster.

“The more I looked at it, the more I realized that the Green party has the best plan for B.C.,” she told the Record.

Campbell is a two-term school trustee who has run under the labour banner both times. She said her decision to run provincially is not a criticism of current NDP MLA Judy Darcy but rather a decision she believes would bring about a better political party for the city and the province.

By throwing her hat in the ring, Campbell has made what could have been a sleepy provincial election one to watch. With her name recognition pitted against Darcy and the NDP (in a labour loving town) we can’t even guess what the outcome will be.   

© 2017 New West Record

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