Accountant Neal Nicholson was elected as a Coquitlam city councillor in a by-election in 2007. But when he stood for reelection in the following year’s regular election, he placed ninth and lost.
Now Nicholson is making another bid for council in a by-election. The May 15 vote will fill the seat vacated by Fin Donnelly, who won a federal by-election last November to become an NDP MP for New Westminster–Coquitlam.
“Do I feel lucky?” Nicholson asked lightheartedly in response to the Straight ’s question about his chances. “I feel like the by-election specialist.”
Nicholson identified three major issues that he believes are important to voters in the municipality. These are solutions to homelessness, the provision of more services to compensate for rising property taxes, and transit, in particular completion of the long-delayed Evergreen Line.
To encourage voter turnout, council has decided to include two questions on the ballot, according to Mayor Richard Stewart.
Voters will be asked if they want to restrict smoking on restaurant patios. They will also be asked if they want to expand or curtail off-leash hours for dogs in city parks.
However, Stewart said he continues to be concerned about the cost of holding the by-election, which he estimated at $200,000. He said the city asked the provincial government whether it has another option but was told it has no choice.
“Right now in British Columbia, if on election night a winning candidate is so excited he or she dies of a heart attack”¦you have to have another election,” Stewart told the Straight. “You can’t just choose the next one who’s still alive.”
Other by-election candidates include local pub owner and ex–mayoral candidate Owen Coomer, and former Tri-City News columnist Terry O’Neill. Also running are Brian Babcock, Ralph Banni, Massimo Mandarino, Andy Shen, and Andy Wickey.
Stewart isn’t endorsing any of the candidates. Donnelly is backing Nicholson, and has gone door-knocking with the candidate.
The first of three all-candidates meetings will be held on May 4 at Douglas College’s David Lam Campus (1250 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam), starting at 7 p.m.