Gwen O’Mahony has set up camp in downtown Agassiz, in an effort to maintain a presence in the further reaches of the Chilliwack-Hope riding.
Volunteers spent Friday setting up at the old Black Sea Organics store building. While orange NDP signs have covered many of the windows and signage, the actual office space is a small corner that fits a desk, and a few chairs, as well as providing storage for NDP election campaign signs. A by-election for the Chilliwack-Hope riding has been called for April 19. O’Mahony will be running against Liberal candidate Laurie Throness and Conservative candidate John Martin, who are all vying for the seat left vacant by longtime MLA Barry Penner when he retired in January.
“This by-election is the best thing to ever happen in our town,” she said, while sitting in her Agassiz office. She’s no stranger to campaigning now, having run both provincially and federally. While the goal is to become an elected representative for the area, she works at setting out small goals each day.
Being in campaign mode is a “day by day” process, she said.
O’Mahony was in Agassiz Friday to check out the new digs, and spend some time knocking on doors in the area. She says it’s meeting people on their doorstep that gives her the best insight into what’s going on in the riding.
“We’re going to stick to the issues that we’re hearing on the doorsteps,” she said.
And she’s hearing three issues that people want to talk about — affordability, healthcare access and jobs.
As for the latter, she says the Liberals are “spending a lot of money to advertise the BC Jobs Plan at a time when people are feeling a high level of uncertainty around their own job security.”
The province shouldn’t be spending money on slick ad campaigns, she said, and shouldn’t be launching “horrendous” personal attacks on NDP party leader Adrian Dix.
It’s no secret that job security, pension allotment and healthcare costs are on the minds of voters, but O’Mahony said increases to MSP premiums are hitting seniors particularly hard.
“People are just finding out that their premiums are not being paid,” she said.
During the 2009 election, O’Mahony spent the majority of her time knocking on doors in Hope, and she intends to continue knocking on doors throughout the area right until election day.
She said the hard work is paying off, and believes the NDP have a chance in the riding. Like many, she sees the connection between that success and the late-NDP federal leader, Jack Layton.
“We’ve been making gains everywhere, including Chilliwack,” she said.
The most recent federal election gave the party a “wonderful momentum,” she said. “That’s what I’m part of, this momentum and it’s brought us to this by-election.”
O’Mahony said she’ll be checking in regularly at the Agassiz office, meeting with local canvassers and volunteers.