Newcomers to provincial politics fight for empty seat in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

With Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows NDP MLA Mike Sather retiring, the open seat is being contested by a mixture of relative newcomers and veterans to politics.

Conservative Manuel Pratas was shocked even by his own nomination, having not previously anticipated a Conservative candidate to be present in his riding nor in neighbouring Maple Ridge-Mission. Pratas has expressed that the race may be fairly even amongst the current candidates, considering that none of them have run for a provincial seat. Doug Bing of the Liberals and Elizabeth Rosenau for the NDP are also running in the riding for the first time.

Michael Patterson for the Greens is also running for the first time provincially. But he did run, unsuccessfully, for the Greens in 2008′s Maple Ridge municipal election. Patterson currently works as an electrical engineer and telecommunications expert for wireless carriers in B.C.. An avid cyclist, Patterson says in his Green Party profile that, “You don’t have to be left or right wing to support the Green Party. You just have to be someone that cares about your community.”

Although a newcomer to British Columbian politics, construction worker Pratas says he understands the work schedule of a politician — having served three years on city council in Hamilton, Ontario — and wants to put in more time and effort than most. “I speak the language of the people. I’m not going to be a suit and tie man who only works 39 days of the year and spends the rest on vacation.” Along with the Conservatives’ proposed tax credit for commuters stuck with bridge tolls as well as an abolition of the carbon tax, Pratas’ main concerns are education and the environment.

Three-term Pitt Meadows councillor Bing, who is running for the Liberals, has raised questions about his NDP opponent Rosenau’s experience. Rosenau beat out Korleen Carreras for the nomination last June following a recommendation from Sather. Citing her inexperience in politics as a pitfall to his veteran knowledge in the riding, Bing says that he has his “finger on the pulse of the issues that matter to the community” while Rosenau has worked as a pharmacist in the Pitt Meadows region since November 2005.

Supporters of Rosenau argue that her scientific background should be seen as an advantage. She’s supported not only by her predecessor Sather but also NDP health critic Mike Farnworth. Farnworth stated in a press release that Rosenau’s experience as a health professional will be invaluable when forming government.

In the past, this riding has seen some close calls come election day with Sather beating out his then-opponent Liberal Ken Stewart by only 274 votes in the 2009 election. It will be interesting to see in two weeks time who comes out on top — and by how close of a margin.

Originally posted on The Vancouver Sun

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