By Fran Yanor / Legislative Reporter

By week two of the election run-up in the Prince George-Valemount riding, two candidates had declared their intention to run, with a third still being vetted.

Whoever gets their party’s nod will have to hit the ground at a sprint because MLA Shirley Bond has a long head start.

As of press time Sept. 28, the B.C. Green Party had announced 23 year-old UNBC forestry student Mackenzie Kerr as their candidate and Prince George resident Sean Robson had announced his intention to run for the B.C. Libertarian Party, while the NDP were awaiting headquarters’ approval of a candidate, and the Conservatives had not responded to a request for information.

Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond said working hard for her constituents is her priority and that voters should ask which party will best manage the economic recovery. Photo courtesy of Shirley Bond

Incumbent MLA Shirley Bond has nearly 20 years experience representing the riding of Prince George-Valemount – much of it as a cabinet minister of various portfolios through several Liberal governments.

“I have spent a lot of years getting to know my riding and getting to know the people,” said Bond. “My job is to take the concerns of my constituents to Victoria, not having Victoria send information back the other way.”

Bond chairs the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and frequently presses Ministers behind the scenes on her constituents’ behalf, as well as calling their attention to issues publicly during legislative committees and Question Period.

Bond is currently Finance Critic for the Liberal Opposition.

B.C. Green Party candidate Mackenzie Kerr ran as the Cariboo-Prince George riding candidate for the Green Party of Canada in the 2019 Federal election.

“The next 28 days are going to be a scramble but I’m ready,” Kerr said in a Sept. 26 posting on her Facebook page.

“I am passionate about creating sustainable communities and bringing a northern perspective to our conversations around the transition to a new, green economy,” Kerr wrote in an earlier post.

{For a more in-depth profile of Kerr, see the Goat story..}

One of the issues top of mind for Bond these days is the road to recovery.

The BC government recently released its $1.5 billion economic recovery plan as part of a $5 billion COVID-19 package to support people during the pandemic.

“Right now we’re managing our way through the health care issues related to a pandemic,” said Bond, who is a former Health Minister. “We’re going to find ourselves in unprecedented deficit territory. Voters need to ask who is best to manage the economy as we restore British Columbia?”

The provincial fiscal situation went from a projected budget surplus of $274 million for 2020-21, to a $12.5 billion dollar deficit as of the end of August.

“COVID-19 has ravaged economies across the world,” said Finance Minister Carole James on Aug. 31. “B.C. is not immune to those impacts,”

Many people continue to require financial support, Bond acknowledged. “I understand and accept that. What I also want to see is a plan for how we’re going to start digging ourselves out from under the debt.”

Meanwhile, as the other parties assemble their candidates and election teams, Bond’s intent is singular.

“My number one priority is always going to be working as hard as I can to be an effective and hardworking local MLA,” said Bond. “That’s what matters most to me.”

Libertarian Robson hadn’t yet responded by press time.

Once all the candidates are finalized, the Goat will feature profiles of each of the people running.

Fran Yanor / Local Journalism Initiative / Rocky Mountain Goat / [email protected]