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Randene Neill wins Powell River-Sunshine Coast NDP MLA nomination after close vote

It took four counts of the 450 ballots cast, but Neill was eventually named the NDP MLA nominee for Powell River-Sunshine Coast at the June 8 meeting, held in Sechelt.
Outgoing NDP MLA Nicholas Simons stands with Randene Neill shortly after Neill was named the NDP MLA nominee for Powell River-Sunshine Coast on June 8.

It took four counts of the 450 ballots cast, but Neill was eventually named the NDP MLA nominee for Powell River-Sunshine Coast at a June 8 meeting, held at Sechelt's Seaside Centre. 

Immediately following the announcement, Neill told the Coast Reporter the first item on her agenda is to work hard at winning a seat in the upcoming fall election. Neill will join Premier David Eby and 91 other B.C. NDP candidates seeking election.

Neill says she decided to run for the nomination last fall after hearing Nicholas Simons, sitting NDP MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast, announced he would not seek re-election. Simons was first elected MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast in 2005 and was re-elected in 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2020.

“When Nicholas said that he was stepping down, then I really got concerned with kind of the divisive issues that were happening in our community, like over the dock management plan,” says Neill. “And then as I started talking to people to discuss the name change in Powell River, I thought, you know what, I'm really worried that we’re not going to solve anything divided, we need to come together and solve things together. So that's why I decided I put on my big girl pants and give it a shot. And just talking to all the members here has been really amazing and eye opening and it feels like the right thing to do.”

Neill, an award-winning journalist at GlobalBC for nearly two decades, lives with her family in the community of kalpilin/Pender Harbour and is an avid volunteer, dedicating time to the Pender Harbour Living Heritage Society, and previously with Turning Point Recovery Society, and the BC Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Neill believes her time spent as a journalist gives her much-needed skills, which will help her in the role if elected.

“I think as journalists, it's our job to give people who don't feel like they have a voice, a voice,” says Neill. “And it's people who feel often ignored or unheard or not listened to, so to be able to say yes, my skill is to deeply listen to people to understand what their issues are and what they need help with, and then try and help them.”

In a statement released following the meeting, Neill said, “Housing costs are expensive across Canada, around the world, and here at home in Powell River and the Sunshine Coast. It’s why people living here need a government on their side looking out for them. David Eby’s BC NDP team is taking real action to build more affordable housing, fight global inflation and rising interest rates, and deliver better health care sooner. I’m so proud to be running with this team.”

In that same statement, Eby said Neill has already demonstrated remarkable service to this province and understands the challenges faced by people right now.

“She will be a powerful advocate for everyone in Powell River-Sunshine Coast.” 

Simons told the Coast Reporter, there were a number of reasons he decided not to seek re-election.

“I've been in since 2005, five elections. I thought, you know, it's time for somebody else to take it on,” says Simons. “I loved every minute of that. I still have a lot of excitement about politics.”

Simons added he’ll likely stay involved in politics in some way, but for now he’s happy to support Neill.

“It’s wonderful to have Randy as a candidate. She'll be a very strong voice for our community.”

Local NDP constituency association president Bill Forst, said he was not comfortable breaking down the vote count for the Coast Reporter, but added Neill led the vote right from the first round of vote counting and maintained a steady lead through three more rounds.

"It is a testament to the strength of all five candidates that it took four rounds of counting the preferential ballots to end up with Randene surpassing the 50 per cent mark."

Neill joins BC United's Chris Moore in the pool of confirmed candidates for Powell River-Sunshine Coast. The election is scheduled for Oct. 19.