Voting underway to decide next NDP candidate in New West

Two local women have set their sights on becoming the next NDP candidate in New Westminster.

New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy announced last week that she would not be seeking re-election in the next provincial election. Two New West residents – Ruby Campbell and Jennifer Whiteside – have announced they plan to seek the NDP nomination in New West.

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Online and phone voting for party members was scheduled to run from 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22 until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23, so the results weren’t known at the Record’s deadline.

Sapperton resident Ruby Campbell has worked as the director of advancement at Simon Fraser University since December 2018. Prior to that, she worked at the City of New Westminster for eight years, serving as the intergovernmental and community partnerships manager for nearly three years and the community projects coordinator for five-and-a-half years.

"The security and quality of life that my partner and I have built for our family here – I believe everyone deserves a fair shot at this. Many people in our community are struggling, and we need to ensure we don't leave people behind after COVID-19," Campbell said in a news release. "Together we can do even more to rebuild our community and invest in people first."

According to the newly launched website, Campbell is an active New Democrat, who serves on the constituency executive for the New Westminster NDP, the BC NDP gender rights committee and is a member of BC NDP Indigenous, Black and People of Colour committee.

“Ruby has a deep understanding of how the big issues impact our community – from housing to climate action to transportation,” Coun. Patrick Johnstone said in a news release. “She has always inspired me with her hard work, her dedication to community service and her ability to get things done. She will be an outstanding MLA.”

Other politicians supporting Campbell’s bid to become the NDP candidate include former MLA and MP Dawn Black and former city councillor Bill Harper.

“Ruby has been a great infrastructure builder for the City of New Westminster,” he said. “She worked with the city teams to bring us Pier Park, Intelligent City fibre network, the youth centre, the economic development approach to RCH expansion and much more. Whether it’s working with local community groups, walking the halls of the provincial legislature or meeting with federal politicians, Ruby knows how to get things done.”

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.

“We are in a moment right now, having come through the first part of the COVID pandemic, where there is a lot at stake for people. Standing up for progressive values and for working people is what I have done all of my life,” she said. “I really want to work on behalf of the people of New Westminster, the people of British Columbian to make sure that in the post-COVID recovery that we have a recovery that really puts people first.”

Whiteside, who was born and raised in New West, said it was while attending Douglas College that she really learned about organizing, campaigning and standing up for people and issues. Since then, she’s gone on to advocate for a variety of issues including accessible public child care, migrant workers and health care.

Whiteside said the past six months have had a real impact on her, as she’s been working on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic with the government, the health minister, Dr. Bonnie Henry, public health officials and health-care employers to build protections into long-term care for seniors and nursing homes.

“I’d say the catalyst for me right now is the moment that we are in,” she said of her reason for seeking the nomination. “It’s the incredible change that we are undergoing right now and the incredible change that is going to continue to happen to our economy, to our communities as we continue to grapple with COVID.”

Along with New Westminster councillor and former NDP MLA Chuck Puchmayr and school trustee Gurveen Dhaliwal, several former presidents of the New Westminster NDP constituency association (Brynn Bourke, Cheryl Greenhalgh, Andy Ross and Nancy Whiteside, who is Jennifer’s sister – have endorsed the Quayside resident’s bid to become the NDP candidate in New Westminster.

“I received an endorsement from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip(president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs),which is deeply humbling and meaningful to me,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to getting to work for folks in New West and for our province.”

On Monday, Premier John Horgan announced British Columbians would go to the polls on Saturday, Oct. 24.

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