Saturday, September 06, 2008

She’s been in training for over a year and now she’s ready for the final exam

Small town mayors running for higher office seem to be the wave of politics these days it seems, as Houston Mayor Sharon Smith announced this week that she will run as the Conservative flag carrier in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

Smith has kind of been a shadow MP in training for Parliament for a while now, as it wasn’t that long ago that a bit of controversy broke out when Prince George MP Dick Harris, suggested that anyone in Skeena-Bulkley Valley with concerns in the riding should contact Smith as a point person, his liaison if you will. A move that would seem to bypass the more traditional and apparently inconveniently elected member of Parliament for the riding, the NDP’s Nathan Cullen.

To jog our memories of that period of time , we did a little surfing and reviewed our archives of the day:

Is this a little helpful assistance, or the subversion of democracy?
Politics 101 for Mr. Harris; getting hung out to dry is fun...
Laughing all the way to a reprimand?
Cullen formally files complaint with Commissioner

At the time, much was made about the end run around the elected member, but not much seems to have come of it since. Though, if memory serves correct it did seem that the frequent reminders of her phone number slowed down during that period of time after the controversy broke out.

Smith however did keep her profile in the riding up, by attending the usual string of summer festivals around the riding like Seafest and Canada Day and such, as well as showing up through the Northwest for local announcements, whenever the designated Conservative cabinet minister would drop by for a visit.

Her main debating point to gain a majority of votes in the riding, seems to be to remind the electorate that Mr. Cullen’s party is a minor player in opposition. And apparently should the Conservatives come out with a majority this time around, we may once again be left out of the circles of power unless we paint this riding blue on election day.
Considering the rocky start to her federal learning curve a year ago however, we suspect that her declaration about "taking the higher road even on provincial and federal issues", might get a raised eyebrow from her opponent during the campaign.

The Daily News profiled her bid for office in Thursday’s paper.

Houston mayor throws hat into the ring
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Page three

Skeena-Bulkley Valley residents now have a Conservative candidate to consider for election should Prime Minster Stephen Harper do as expected and announce an election this week.

Houston Mayor Sharon Smith has declared that she will run as the Tory candidate as soon as an election is called.

And Smith is already laying down the differences between her and the incumbent MP Nathan Cullen.

“When you’ve got your MP in the parliament sitting as an opposition and as a fourth level of opposition then it’s difficult to see progress being made when (the local MP) is more for criticizing then being proactive,” said Smith. “We need to get that continuity with Ottawa.”

Smith believes the NDP has little chance being elected in to government and claimed that would be an advantage towards voting for her.

“When you have an MP elected right in to government you have voice in the discussion of that party.

“I believe you are heard in a much more accessible way.” Smith said.

How candidates deal with economic issues facing the North Coast region is considered one of the key factors going this election.

On Wednesday, Smith outlined several ways she thinks the riding could go to increase the region’s economic strength. One was to keep promoting the Port of Prince Rupert as not only an economic driver for Prince Rupert but for the whole Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding.

“We need to identify what the economic opportunities as it pertains to the Port.

“How can the interior east of Prince Rupert access that port increase industrial and commerce use in our communities as soon as we can so we can get the port going and keep it competitive,” she said.

“What I’ve learned as Mayor is we all do better when we work as one community.

Encouraging tourism, how can we improve our forest sector and more opportunities for mining – how can we improve it other than just digging in by two-by-fours.”

Smith is also confident her track record in her home community provides her with the credibility needed to represent her community.

“I’ve been known as somebody as a leader in the (Houston) community looking for opportunities.
“And taking the higher road even on provincial and federal issues.”

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