Editorial — Many eyes will be on Langley during election campaign

John Cummins' decision to run in Langley ensures there will be much provincial interest in local campaign.

Many eyes will be on Langley in this May’s provincial election, with confirmation from BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins that he plans to run in the riding now held by BC Liberal MLA Mary Polak.

Cummins told The Times last September that he would likely run in the riding, and confirmed it last week. He lives in the riding and also lived and taught school in Langley years ago. He has worked on several Langley-related issues while he was the MP for Delta, notably those dealing with rail traffic to Roberts Bank through Langley, and the need to provide good transportation alternatives so that drivers don’t get stuck waiting for trains to cross busy roads.

Last September, the BC Conservatives were in a stronger position, as far as public opinion polls went. There is no doubt that some of those who were polled were parking their votes with the Conservatives, and when a number of controversies arose, they decamped.

However, the BC Conservatives cannot be ruled out. While the party will have trouble electing a significant number (or perhaps any) MLAs, it will most definitely be a spoiler. That’s why Cummins’ entry into the race for the Langley seat is so interesting.

If he manages to take enough votes away from Polak, the NDP’s Andrew Mercier will have a decent shot at winning the seat. The NDP have gained strength in Langley in every provincial and federal election over the past 10 years, and the demographics of the Langley riding are much more favourable to them than the demographics of Fort Langley-Aldergrove, the other provincial seat here.

Polak has been a strong minister and capable MLA. In her current role as minister of transportation, she is responsible for issues that directly affect Langley residents.

Cummins aims to base his local campaign on transportation  issues, as he feels the BC Liberals have not done enough to keep South Fraser residents from paying more than their share for needed transportation improvements.

His disadvantage is that he will not be able to campaign a great deal in the riding, as he must spend much of his time touring the province — particularly during the campaign. He will need a strong local campaign team to ensure that his message gets out to voters in Langley.

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