Jennifer Whiteside hopes to follow in the footsteps of Judy Darcy and other NDP MLAs and become the city’s next representative in the B.C. legislature.
The provincial NDP has announced Whiteside was the successful candidate during online voting in New Westminster, beating out fellow New West resident Ruby Campbell. Whiteside said she is deeply honoured and thrilled that the members of the NDP have put their trust and faith in her as the candidate.
“It was a very vigorous nomination contest. I really want to thank Ruby Campbell for putting herself forward, for running such a strong campaign,” Whiteside told the Record. “She’s clearly an inspiration to the community and I am looking forward to working with her in the future.”
Whiteside, who was born and raised in New West, currently lives at the Quay. New Westminster’s currentMLA Judy Darcy, who is not seeking re-election after seven years in office, was among the community members who endorsed Whiteside.
“Our community needs Jennifer’s passionate and powerful voice representing New Westminster in the B.C. legislature,” Darcy said in an endorsement. “She’s a proven leader who can deliver on our priorities and build back for a better, more equal and sustainable future.”
Whiteside, who has been the Hospital Employees’ Union’ssecretary-business manager since 2015, is a longtime activist and has worked for several unions and community organizations. She will be taking a leave from her position at HEU to conduct her campaign.
“I’ve been working on election campaigns at the provincial, municipal and federal level all my life,” she said. “I have to say that it feels a little strange to be on the other side of things. I’m getting used to it really quickly.”
Whiteside told the Record earlier this week that being on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, through her work with the HEU, was the catalyst for her decision to seek the nomination.
“I really want to work on behalf of the people of New Westminster, the people of British Columbia to make sure that in the post-COVID recovery that we have a recovery that really puts people first,” she said Monday. “The John Horgan government has done a remarkable job over the last three years of working to repair 16 years of BC Liberal neglect, and it’s an enormous job.”
Whiteside said she has been standing up for health care and fighting for public health care for 25 years.
“I have talked to many people, particularly over the last couple of weeks about access to home care and about access to long-term care and the incredible pressure that people are under providing care to their frail seniors. We are sort of living that right now in my family too,” she said. “That is a big part of the work that we need to do to fix the six years of BC Liberal neglect of the health system. Healthcare is important to New Westminster, not only in terms of the seniors demographic that we have in the city but also that it’s a big employer. It’s a big part of the economy in New Westminster.”