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Liberals tap veteran councillor to win back Delta South from indie MLA Huntington

On Tuesday, the BC Liberals tapped veteran city councillor Bruce McDonald to win back Delta South from the first independent MLA elected in over 60 years, Vicki Huntington.

But though she stole away the longtime Liberal riding by a hairline 32 votes in 2009, Huntington said in an interview she's feeling "very good" in these early election days, saying she's "worked hard in the riding, and I think my constituents know that."

"Always in Delta, it's whether government projects and policies have been good for Delta, and whether they have recognized the value of community input and quality of life," she said of her riding. "I don't think they have. I think the government has failed to listen to this community over the years."

Huntington, who worked with McDonald on Delta council, called her new opponent "an adamant and unapologetic supporter of Liberal government policies."

"Most MLAs on the Liberal side, or on the government side, are forced to represent the party and the government to the riding, not vice versa," she said.

"Ultimately, when you're looking at choosing an independent or a party representative, the choice is whose voice do you want to hear? Your own in Victoria, or the party's back in the riding?"

But McDonald, who has served on Delta council since 1988, challenged that view.

"The comment saying (MLAs) represent the broader view rather than local assumes that you're not able to have the local view become the overall. I just don't buy that."

McDonald said his record on council shows he can bring people together to work as a team. But if it comes down to a position of principle and ethics, he said, "you have to be prepared to walk away."

One strong position he has is on the Agricultural Land Reserve. If elected, McDonald indicated he would do everything in his power to protect land from the ALR being given up for development.

It's shaping up to be a three-way race in Delta South. Nic Slater, the BC NDP candidate for the riding in May, ran federally in 2011 for the NDP in Delta-Richmond East. He placed second after Conservative candidate Kerry-Lynne Findlay, with 23 per cent of vote.

The BC Greens and BC Conservatives have indicated they will not run candidates in Delta South, Huntington said.

Before Huntington's win in 2009, Delta South had been a Liberal stronghold. In 1999 and 2001, Liberal Val Roddick won with 60 per cent and 67 per cent of the vote respectively. Roddick was first seriously challenged in 2005 by Huntington, who earned 33 per cent of the vote to Roddick's 37.

Robyn Smith reports for The Tyee.

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