Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On the road again, he can't wait to get on the road again

When he was Mayor of Prince Rupert, Herb Pond spent his fair share of time in office travelling the province, country, continent and at times the world, selling the merits of Prince Rupert, showing the flag and building up relationships. At times it seemed that he was a guy with a suitcase ready to go at the first invitation, prepared to be an ambassador for the city and by extension the region. It's a past history that may soon come in handy as he seeks to capture the North Coast for the Liberals, wrestling it from the current NDP incumbent MLA Gary Coons.

Many of those trips were to increase communication with the Provincial government, addressing issues such as the local fishery, social housing, port development and of course the always on the front burner item of the Tsimshian connector project. They were trips which for the most part have provided mixed results at times for the city, but certainly didn't hurt when it came time to focus on a new stage of his political career.

Now as he seeks to get to work after his recent acclaimed nomination as the BC Liberal candidate for the North coast, Mr. Pond will be digging out the suitcases for some quick trips around the various communities of the riding, seeking to develop or rekindle his contacts and remind would be voters that Mr. Coons will have competition once again in his quest to return to Victoria in May.

Tuesday's Daily News featured a front page, headline story which outlined the upcoming and much anticipated campaign between the two, a political battle which will take the two candidates to many of the towns and villages that make up the North coast riding.

Local Liberal Party picks former mayor as the candidate in May's provincial election
By George T. Baker
The Daily News

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Pages one and two

Herb Pond is officially the BC liberals' man on the North Coast Pond was acclaimed to the post in a private meeting with local party members last week.

He said he was excited about what lays in front of him during the next five months heading to the provincial elections but was reticent at this point to speak directly about what the BC liberals have planned for May.

"I'm going to be meeting with a lot of people and I want to get out across the riding and listen to people and hear what their concerns are and get to know the various corners of the riding," said Pond.

Pond, who had a tumultuous end to his time as mayor, is confident that travelling out of Prince Rupert will help build momentum, and he said he was looking forward in to the election.

"Whenever you are in this game you need to work on allowing people a chance to get to know you and that is clearly what I intend to be doing over the next number of months," said Pond, who will take on incumbent MLA Gary Coons. Pond said he would leave the community to decide how people felt about him within Rupert. He said being Mayor of Prince Rupert was the highlight of his professional life and that representing Rupertites was a job he was proud to do.

Representing the region will have a similar narrative because the riding's biggest city is Prince Rupert and the issues faced in Prince Rupert are similar to issues faced in the other comers of the province.

Employment and future job prospects remain the biggest issue facing the North Coast at the moment. It is a common thread across the country and B.C. but the region has faced steady growth in unemployment during the last 20 years - to 12.9 per cent, double both the provincial and national average.

Neither the BC liberals nor the BC NDP have come up with a distinct answer during that time to help raise job totals in .Prince Rupert.

"We continue to be an area that needs economic development and jobs, " said Pond.

Pond said the development of Phase 1 of the container port was a huge step in the right direction in getting the town moving forward.

The BC liberals have come in line for criticism in both Delta and Prince Rupert for making the DeltaPort project a priority, rather than focusing on Prince Rupert's Phase 2 expansion of
its port.

Pond steered clear of attaching any policy-indicating statements but said that he would be thumping the expansion drum if he were elected.

"I don't know where they're at but certainly the message I want to take to them is that the development of the container port is not only good for the North Coast but good for the province," said Pond.

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