Michael Sather just retired as Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA. Now

Michael Sather just retired as Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA. Now

Experts in charge of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows campaigns

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has two veterans behind the scenes for the candidates vying to represent the riding May 14

Two rookie candidates are running for election in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows but they have two wily veterans managing their campaigns, ensuring things go the way they intend.

“It’s important that everybody is on the same page,” said retiring MLA Michael Sather who won two elections in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows for the NDP.

Sather’s only officially been an ex-MLA for a few days but is managing neophyte NDPer Elizabeth Rosenau’s campaign as she tries to keep the riding for her party.

His campaign strategy follows a few simple steps. Keep the message consistent, don’t tire out your candidate, organize and work hard and avoid arguments.

“For a candidate, it’s a matter of being clear in your mind and what is the message of the party and being able to speak to those. Which Elizabeth is really good at doing. She’s not difficult to tutor.”

Pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to talk to face-to-face with voters is probably the best way of hearing directly from voters and taxpayers about what’s bugging them.

“It’s a huge learning experience for the candidate.” There’s no better way to learn about the issues and where you and your party stand on them, he adds.

Sometimes though angry voters are encountered who want nothing better than to give a politician a piece of their mind or to slam a door in their face.

“That’s a challenge, for sure,” Sather said. “You always remember those more than the others.

“You try not to engage in any battles with them. That’s just a losing cause.” Instead, he advises just say you understand you have a different point of view, “and try to get away.

“It doesn’t do you any good or them to be yelling at each other on the doorstep.”

But surprisingly, such encounters didn’t happen too frequently to Sather during his campaigns in 2005 and 2009 as often as he had feared. “We’re Canadians and mostly polite – wouldn’t want to be doing that in Arizona.”

Liberal candidate Doug Bing’s campaign is being overseen by Maple Ridge councillor and school board veteran Cheryl Ashlie who’s fought and won several of her own campaigns for office.

The provincial scene though is another kettle of fish.

“It’s very different than municipal,” elections. Campaigning for a council seat is largely an individual effort where the candidate puts up their own signs and often, just their own money.

Running for a provincial office is a team effort. Since the campaign began it’s been a non-stop schedule,

“I don’t think I’ve eaten one meal in the evening sitting down since about three weeks ago. It’s going to be a great weight-loss program.”

So far, her team has a hard-core group of 30 volunteers working on the campaign and hopes to boost that up to about 100.

It’s a learning experience for both municipal politicians. “Doug and I are on the same level. Sather’s done the provincial scene, Doug and I haven’t. We’re both learning at the same time and we’re making errors and we’re laughing at them and trying to fix as we go.

“I’m in a different bracket than Michael. He’s an old hat at this.”

Ashlie said her family background has always stressed self reliance and independence but she knows some people need help and that the Liberal party philosophy was just the best fit. She wants her kids to know that everything has to be worked for.

“We are hearing constantly that the Liberals got the big stuff right,” but not the little stuff, such as the HST. The public should have been consulted before that happened. “But that didn’t happen and you what, that’s history now.”

Both campaign managers though say their jobs are easy because of the quality of their candidates, both in medical professions, one a pharmacist, the other a dentist.

“I just have absolutely no hesitation about the calibre of the man,” Ashlie said.

“I see Elizabeth as a very good candidate so I’m very pleased,” Sather said.

Under Elections B.C. spending limits, each candidate can spend no more than $73,218.