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Community First officially out of the gate in New Westminster

Candidates will be announced after a nomination meeting May 18.
Ballot vote election
New Westminster's newest civic party, Community First, is officially out of the gate after its inaugural AGM on Thursday, April 28.

New Westminster's newest civic party is officially out of the gate.

Community First held its inaugural annual general meeting in virtual format last night to adopt its governing bylaws and select an executive, headed up by new chair Cheryl Greenhalgh and vice-chair Nancy Kato.

Greenhalgh said the online meeting attracted upwards of 75 people, running the gamut of demographic groups in New Westminster, and included both familiar faces and some newcomers. The left-leaning Community First was the brainchild of a group of New Westminster residents that included some New Democrat heavy hitters, including former MLA and MP Dawn Black and former MLA Judy Darcy.

Two sitting civic politicians and new party members, city councillor Patrick Johnstone and school trustee Dee Beattie, spoke at the meeting to update attendees on what's been happening on the local government scene.

Greenhalgh said the new civic party now has an open nomination process underway for both incumbents and newcomers, and anyone who's interested in running can reach out. An active search committee has been set up to take applications and conduct interviews over the next couple of weeks.

The party is hoping to hold its nomination meeting for the Oct. 15 elections on May 18. Party members will vote to select candidates by secret ballot.

The party's website outlines five priorities: social, economic and environmental justice; reconciliation and decolonization; climate action and stewardship; public services; and social democracy.

The website says members are “encouraged to support the NDP to advance a progressive agenda provincially and federally.” It does not require membership in the NDP, but it does specify that members of Community First must not be members of any “opposing” political party.

Other new Community First board members are Janice Meehan, recording secretary; David Black, membership secretary; Jason Campbell, fundraising chair; Raunaq Singh, youth representative; Andii Stephens, labour representative; and members at large Debra Parkes, Frances Tang-Graham, Jack Makolewski and Alex Ng.

“With the civic election only five-and-a-half months away, it is truly heart-warming to have so many committed people from all across our city step up to volunteer for Community First so that we can hit the ground running,” Greenhalgh said.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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NOTE: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. on May 2 with additional information about membership.

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