Tell us, briefly, about your background, where you call home, your political experience and why you decided to run this year?
My name is Mike Bhangu. I am a city councillor for the City of Merritt, a nonfiction author with over ten books, and I occasionally work in the film industry as an actor. I currently reside in Merritt, B.C.
The established political parties come and go, and our hardships continue to grow. A sense of hope is lost. The political parties are the problem. It is under their watch that our suffering grew. This is why I stand as an independent candidate. Moreover, I can better represent my constituents without the trappings of a political party. I represent you and only you. And we’ve seen successful independent MLAs before such as Vicki Huntington (Delta South).
What do you see as the top three issues facing Hope and area currently and over the next decade?
The deterioration of the family, mental health concerns, the struggle of small business, and the suffering of the retiree. We must do better and we must do better now. Our communities are regressing.
• In this day and age, it’s very difficult to establish and maintain a family. For many, a family is out of reach. And for those who managed to create one, stability is constantly threatened.
• Too many retirees financially struggle and it should not be this way. They gave their life to the system and they deserve better. Where are their golden years?
• Not enough is done to support small business. Small business is being left behind. They struggle and they have for too long.
• Mental health is taking a toll on our communities. We must address this problem now. If we do not, what will our communities look like in 20 or 30 years?
How do you balance Hope’s needs with the needs of the more economically depressed communities in the district?
Representing a large riding such as this can be tricky, as each community has unique needs. The best method to do so is to stay connected with the people of each community. I plan to do this by regularly spending time in each community and interacting as I would in my hometown—I often walk about town and I purposely work out of coffee shops, so that I can interact with those I represent. More importantly, I’m easy to approach and to talk with.
BC Housing is planning for a 52-unit supportive housing building in Hope. How do you see this proposed build filling the need in the community and what other, if any, housing investments would you advocate for if elected?
In my opinion, supportive housing to help the homeless is a double-edged sword. If not correctly approached, money might be wasted and a neighborhood might be damaged. It’s important to consult with the community to determine where is best, and a project such as this should include some type of mental health help and addictions recovery. Without mental health assistance and addictions recovery, money might be wasted.
In Victoria, I will push for more responsible housing, and that means housing in the right areas and with the right support systems in place. It is vital to not only provide shelter, but to also combat addictions.
What kind of a relationship do you think an MLA should have with First Nations in the district and, if elected, what are concrete steps you would take to build this relationship?
Every elected official should have a strong working relationship with the First Nations, and all the other cultural groups. This is a given. To build working relationships, I plan to stay connected and regularly interact with the First Nations’ communities as I would with a friend. The first step is to build a friendship.
Tell us one surprising or unique thing about yourself.