New party names its mayoral candidate, promises full slate
Daren Hancott anticipates he'll lead a full slate of candidates looking to gain a voice in Burnaby City Hall and the school board in November's municipal elections.
The businessman and educator was introduced Thursday as the mayoral candidate for the new Burnaby First Coalition.
The BFC is comprised of members of the Green Party, Team Burnaby and Burnaby Parents' Voice as well as independents. It was formed to put forth a unified opposition to the Burnaby Citizens' Association, which holds every elected seat in council and school board.
Hancott was unanimously acclaimed as the group's mayoral candidate by its board in a meeting last Saturday. He's a past-chair of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and served as the chief administrative officer at University Canada West as well as executive posts at Seafood Products Ltd. and the University of Phoenix. He's lived in Burnaby for 15 years.
Hancott said while he was also considering taking a run at the federal Conservative party nomination for the new riding of Burnaby North-Seymour, he had to make a choice.
"I've been sitting on the sidelines for 15 years," said Hancott. "I'm doing this because I care about the community."
BFC has already named two candidates for city council and three for school board. The are Nick Kvenich and Helen Ward for council along with Ben Seebaran, Heather Leung and Shakila Jayachandran for school board.
Hancott said the process of filling out the slate is ongoing by the party's board of directors as they vet and interview potential candidates.
"It's all happening very quickly," said Hancott. "We have lots of time to find people."
Hancott said one of his group's main goals is to get more people out to vote. Burnaby had one of the lowest rates of voter turnout in the last municipal election in 2011.
Hancott said that's because there hasn't been a credible opposition to the BCA juggernaut which has controlled city hall for 27 years.
"I can't recall when a group this diverse has come together to bring some sort of check and balance to the current administration," said Hancott.
He said the party has been talking to Burnaby voters to find out their concerns, and that process will continue in four town hall meetings leading up to the Nov. 15 elections.
Hancott cited high taxes, education and the aging Burnaby Hospital as particular issues concerning voters. And while he said the party's complete platform won't be rolled out for a few weeks he promised if elected he would undertake a core review of the city's affairs in his first 180 days in office.
He also said he'd immediately hire more RCMP officers and the party is already working on a plan to replace Burnaby Hospital.
"We're the ordinary voices of Burnaby residents," said Hancott. "I think we can do this."