Delta South MLA not ready to retire

Despite rumours to the contrary, Huntington to seek third term next May

Word she's planning to quit is a rumour started by others, says Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, who's looking forward to the next provincial election.

With a year to go before B.C. voters head back to the polls, the independent MLA, who held a recent fundraising event, is making it clear she does not plan to retire once her second term is complete, despite some speculation to the contrary.

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"People have been really supportive and I keep getting the comment, 'If you don't run Vicki, what do we do then?' I'm so blessed they've given an independent an opportunity to work on behalf of the people," Huntington told the Optimist last week.

The Liberals won another majority government in 2013, but Delta South voters bucked the trend by re-electing an independent for a second term. Although her political leanings are Conservative, Huntington has long been outspoken when it comes to issues she cares about, including protecting the environment and the preservation of farmland. In 2009, the former Delta councillor's gamble to run provincially paid off when she became the first independent in 60 years to win a seat in the legislature. In 2013, she made B.C. election history by becoming the first independent ever to be re-elected.

Huntington's first victory over Liberal cabinet minister Wally Oppal was a squeaker that required a recount, but the second time around saw her beat Liberal challenger, and Delta councillor, Bruce McDonald by a comfortable 2,500-vote margin, earning 48 per cent of the vote in the process.

In the last election she held onto a good chunk of the disenchanted Liberal vote she won in 2009, while also benefitting from many New Democrats strategically parking their votes. The Greens, meanwhile, didn't run a candidate out of respect for Huntington.

Huntington said she's enjoyed representing the riding.

"Hopefully the people know that I've tried to do it honourably and have worked as hard as I can for them," she said.

Although a nomination meeting hasn't been set, Delta South Liberals have already approved civic councillor Ian Paton to run for the nomination, while former Delta police chief Jim Cessford has filed his application and is awaiting approval to run for the Liberal nomination as well.

Noting he was approached to run, Paton, a farmer and lifelong South Deltan who's seen many changes in the riding, said he'd be a champion for protecting agricultural land.

"I want to make sure any future port expansion is done ethically and environmentally," he said. "I feel I'm the right person to carry on provincially and if I'm part of the party in power I can bring positive change to Delta or financial assistance. I know what's going on in Delta, I know the past and hopefully be part of a government in power that brings positive change."

The NDP don't have a candidate lined up but are actively looking for a suitable person, said provincial party president Craig Keating.

"There's a candidate search going on right now all across the province and certainly in Delta South as well," he said.

Nearing the end of his first term as the Liberal MLA in Delta North, former civic councillor Scott Hamilton said he plans to run again. Noting he's learned much in the past three years, Hamilton said he's proud of his government's results.

As far as speculation that Coun. Sylvia Bishop may run against him for the NDP, as was the case in 2013, Bishop told the Optimist she had been approached by various people asking her to run, but she takes "immense satisfaction in representing North Delta and South Delta as a member of Delta council and will not be running in next year's provincial election."

The next general election is scheduled for May 9, 2017.

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