Five candidates have been confirmed to run in the B.C. provincial election this month, competing for the Fraser Nicola MLA seat, with Mike Bhangu rounding out the race as an independent candidate.
Confirmed candidates for the Fraser Nicola riding are Aaron Sumexheltza (BC NDP), Dennis Adamson (independent), incumbent Jackie Tegart (BC Liberals), Jonah Timms (BC Greens) and Mike Bhangu (independent). Bhangu, a Merritt city councillor, writer and actor, said he entered the race as an independent after growing disillusioned with the party system.
“The established political parties come and go and our hardships continue to grow. A sense of hope is lost and this is why I stand as an independent candidate,” he said.
Bhangu said he has repeatedly heard from people who are not happy with the actions of the political parties and governments, leading some to forgo voting entirely.
If elected, as an independent Bhangu said he wouldn’t be hamstrung by toeing the party line and being kept in line by a party whip. The first-term Merritt city councillor said he has been involved in politics for 20 years, including assisting with elections from the federal level down.
Bhangu joins the chorus of candidates echoing their displeasure at the calling of a snap election by BC NDP leader John Horgan. “I don’t care if the New Democrats claim they’re a party that is for the people, they constantly prove that they will choose politics over people. And the snap election was a prime example,” he said.
Bhangu said mental health in communities is a pressing need, one that if it is not dealt with will mean communities are no longer stable nor safe. “If we do not tackle this problem now, it will destroy our communities,” he said. Action for Bhangu would include empowering health experts, giving health authorities more power as well as more tools and knowledge to tackle mental health concerns.
The cost of living for families and retirees is another. With the cost of living having skyrocketed and wages not having kept up, Bhangu said it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish and maintain a family.
“Housing is ridiculous, it’s crazy, when a home costs a half a million dollars. One should not have to mortgage their life and their children’s life just to have a home because that’s the direction we’re headed. That’s slavery and we’re okay with it by the looks of it, or government is anyways,” he said. “We need to change this and we need to change it quickly.”
Another key message for Bhangu is supporting small businesses, who he said have not been given enough support by the provincial NDP and Liberal parties.
Unable to go door knocking this campaign, Bhangu said he will still connect with voters by walking around communities and getting his message out through media.
The Fraser-Nicola district was formed in 2009 from the old Yale-Lillooet riding, which (apart from 2001–2005) elected the NDP’s Harry Lali from 1991 to 2013. In 2013 the Liberals took Fraser-Nicola, and re-took it in 2017, with Tegart as their candidate both times. Both races were tight, with Tegart beating second-place Lali by 614 votes in 2013 and 524 votes in 2017. As a result, Fraser-Nicola is widely viewed as a swing riding which could go to either the Liberals or the NDP.
The Hope Standard will be holding a virtual all candidates meeting Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. You can watch the meeting live at hopestandard.com or on our Facebook page. A summary of the meeting will be printed in the following week’s Hope Standard.
– with files from Barbara Roden
Advance voting: Thursday, Oct. 15 to Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
General voting day: Saturday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (completed vote-by-mail packages must be received by Elections BC by 8 p.m.)
Preliminary voting results will be reported after 8 p.m. on Oct. 24
Final count begins: Friday, Nov. 6 (all absentee ballots are counted)
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