Civic Election Special

British Columbia’s 2014 civic elections are almost upon us, with candidates battling it out for your vote on November 15.

The Peak caught up with three different SFU students who are running in the upcoming elections in their municipalities. Candidates shared their motivations and visions for their respective positions, as well as how their actions would affect students, if elected.

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Moe KopahiWEB - Kopahi

Coquitlam — City Council

1. Why are you running for this position?

I am running because I bring fresh perspective to the table and want to serve my community (Coquitlam) now that I am almost done with SFU. I believe my background in engineering (familiarity with BC Building Code, BC Fire Code, and LEED) and experience in governance (SFSS four years, Senate four years and basically committee structured government) would be a great asset for Coquitlam council.

2. What changes would you like to see, should you be elected?

I want to increase community engagement by targeting youth and multicultural communities in Coquitlam. You can’t expect the same from the current background with all current councillors from the same background (Canadian) and same age range.

I also want to push for sustainable development and help council make decisions on new projects by educating them on engineering factors and economical influences on neighbourhoods, businesses and community groups.

Last but not least, I think we should push for a convention center in Coquitlam, as currently none exists within the Tri-Cities. Just like Build SFU!

3. What changes would you make that would affect students?

If elected, I will advocate for the following:

1) Increase in 143 buses (Coquitlam – SFU) during peak hours and possibly extending the hours into evenings on the weekdays and continuing the service in the weekends.

2) Extend the Coquitlam library hours during midterm and final exams which makes it more convenient for Douglas College and SFU students to stay local for their studies.

3) More co-op and internship opportunities within the City Hall for post-secondary students.

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WEB - ShenAndy Shen

Coquitlam — City Council

1. Why are you running for this position?

I believe that Coquitlam is brimming with opportunity and has the potential to be a regional leader. We need to focus on job creation, public safety and respect for taxpayer dollars. There is a lot of work ahead. I know the issues, having ran in the last two municipal elections, and I have experience volunteering within the City of Coquitlam and having worked for the federal government for the past few years.

2. What changes would you like to see, should you be elected?

I would like to see the city focus on the three main aspects of my platform: (a) Jobs and the Economy; (b) Public Safety; and (c) Respect for Taxpayer Dollars. We need to do more with job creation — especially since we lost 500 jobs in the past year. People are speeding up and down our streets and we need to invest in public safety to crack down on dangerous behaviours. I want to see the city use our money effectively, efficiently and responsibly, so that we can lower our taxes.

3. What changes would you make that would affect students?

I am focusing on jobs and the economy because I know that students are looking for a place to start a career, and I would like Coquitlam graduates to be able to find a job within Coquitlam. We need to compete with other municipalities to draw businesses into Coquitlam and create good local jobs here at home. Also, Coquitlam needs to work on our transportation plan (i.e. 143 buses) to make it easier to get to and from class, especially during the peak hours and during exam periods when exams may be held on weekends.

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WEB - SwistakAlexander Swistak

Port Moody — School Trustee

1. Why are you running for this position?

I am running because I am concerned about the erosion of public education. I want to preserve for current and future students the educational opportunities that I enjoyed during my schooling in SD43. My commitment to quality public education, constituent outreach, and my respect for learning will inform my decisions as School Trustee. As a successful student of Political Science here at SFU, I have developed a firm grasp of setting, reading and evaluating public policy, and I am excited to put these skills to work for the betterment of our public education system.

2. What changes would you like to see, should you be elected?

I would like to facilitate the inclusion of young taxpayers and those who fund education, yet have no children, in discussions concerning our public education system. Their support for quality public education and student achievement will secure long-term adequate funding and the understanding that we all benefit from an educated and well-adjusted society.  This will only be realized when we have a Trustee who understands the importance of their position and treats it as a full-time position, rather than an add-on to their busy schedule. We have settled too long with mediocrity, and our students have suffered because of it.

3. What changes would you make that would affect students?

I will lobby for increased funding, as our district receives less per student than the provincial average. I will engage constituents to raise awareness of the importance of public education. I will also work with other school boards to improve public education; by forming relationships with constituents, teachers, administrators, support staff and other school boards, I will contribute to building a united front to protect our system. I will help bring an end to the board balancing its budget by excessively laying off district personnel. I’m also committed to finding administrative and operational inefficiencies and directing more funds to students.

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