The opening salvos were fired yesterday in the battle for the new provincial riding of Vancouver West-End.
Arthur Griffiths, 51, former owner of the Vancouver Canucks and Grizzlies, announced yesterday morning that he would seek the B.C. Liberal nomination in the riding for the May 2009 provincial election.
Hours later, COPE Park Commissioner Spencer Herbert, 27, announced he was seeking the NDP nomination in the same riding.
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“Isn’t that coincidental?” said Griffiths after Herbert’s announcement yesterday afternoon.
“It’s pretty hilarious. Bring it on. I welcome competition in all walks of my life and I love a debate.”
Griffiths said he’s toyed with the idea of running for politics for a number of years and said provincial politics is the best vehicle to affect change.
Herbert, who was elected to the Vancouver Parks Board in 2005, said he was inspired to run after he took part in March’s homeless count and came across several people who had been evicted from apartments in the area.
“I’m not a multimillionaire,” said Herbert, who rents in the West End and pointed out that Griffiths lives in Point Grey. “I’m somebody who faces the same challenges as the average person in the West End.”
Both candidates identified homelessness and affordable housing as key issues in the riding.
Griffiths, who has lived in the West End in the past and who plans to relocate to the area, also listed mental health and the safety of seniors as concerns. Herbert’s press release identified four priorities including keeping St. Paul’s Hospital open in the West End.
The riding was created after an electoral boundary commission recommended splitting the existing riding of Vancouver-Burrard into Vancouver West-End and Vancouver-False Creek.
Lorne Mayencourt, the Liberal MLA of Vancouver-Burrard who is not seeking re-election, lent his support to Griffiths at a press conference. Griffiths said he wasn’t courted, but had spoken with Premier Gordon Campbell and Tourism Minister Stan Hagan.
At his press conference, Herbert was joined by Coun. Tim Stevenson, who held the riding from 1996 to 2001, and Constance Barnes, daughter of the late Emery Barnes who held the seat before Stevenson.