The News sent a questionnaire to all candidates in the three local ridings. Candidates were given strict word limits and instructed not to go over, lest their answers be cut off.
Name: Kevin Eastwood
Current occupation: Assistant Grower (Native Plant Nursery)
Notable past achievements/titles/jobs: Cycled Victoria to St. Johns 2011,
Where do you live? Currently in rural Aldergrove
If you have run for office before, what have you learned? If you have not, why are you running now?
I am excited to be running for the first time. Each election I have looked for a candidate and a party that I believe will help lead BC in a positive direction. While our province has abundant resources, we continue to find ourselves with diminishing earnings. Increasing numbers of British Columbians are struggling against diverse challenges without support of government. Its time for leadership that values all residents, emphasizes serving the public, and leads with integrity and a collaborative approach. I hope to help cultivate a new vision for our province that will see increased opportunity, cooperation and engagement by all.
Tell us about yourself. I.E.: Where were you born, where did you go to school/college etc., what jobs did you have over the years?
I grew up in Kamloops, which I have called home on-and-off until moving to the Fraser valley. Between grade 12 and university I had the tremendous opportunity of spending a year in Peru as a Rotary exchange student. This experience and others have provided me the opportunity to learn new languages and appreciate other cultures, and to see BC with fresh eyes. I completed a bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Quest University Canada in the inaugural class and also served as VP in student government. After Quest I studied Applied Biology in Plant and Soil Science at UBC -pursuing a career in Agrology through which I hope to empower farmers to use good ecological stewardship to increase ecosystem resilience and optimize productivity. I have had several jobs in the private sector in construction, agriculture/nursery production, and ski patrol, as well as for the public service as a Wildland Firefighter, Invasive Species tech., Nat. Park Wildlife Tech., and acting Range Agrologist. This broad experience has taught me to appreciate the opportunities I have, and to seek to promote such opportunities for others.
Why would you make a good representative for your constituents in the legislature?
I would represent Abbotsford West constituents well through sincerity, and a determination to overcome challenges by working hard and listening to all sides of a conversation. A community is made up of diverse people, each with their own life experience and values. Representing such a community and acting on their behalf is a tremendous responsibility. I would do this by seeking the input of all groups and by carefully weighing each decision to pursue improvement in everyone’s lives, and to avoid trampling upon those who are vulnerable. I would make myself available to all demographics, use research and the knowledge of experts to make sound decisions, and support policy and spending that would drive innovation, sustainability, and economic opportunities both for the province and Abbotsford.
What are the three most important issues facing Abbotsford and how would you address them?
1. Affordability – despite low unemployment many British Columbians are now earning less than a living wage. This means that personal debt is an increasing financial threat in addition to diverting time away from family and community involvement. I would help implement BC Green Party policy to help bring up earnings while mitigating costs of child-care, tuition and other expenses. Ensuring that people working full-time can afford to raise a family and stay out of debt will help to reduce crime, and bring communities closer together. Supporting seniors who need assistance to live in their own homes will help keep all generations engaged with one another and contributing to our community.
2. Education – Providing greater support to young British Columbians through free daycare, increased funding to public schools, and assistance for post-secondary students and high-school completion for adult learners will help prepare us for the changing economy. Ensuring small businesses have opportunities to train employees will keep people advancing and make sure needed skill sets are available.
3. City Development – work with city leaders in the Fraser Valley to preserve farmland and agriculture jobs while simultaneously planning for residential growth. Implement an agriculture plan to produce more food in BC and provide a new generation the chance become producers. Work with local government to make more affordable homes available to buyers. Address homelessness through increased support for persons with disabilities, affordable housing, and increased mental-health and addiction resources. Invest in transportation solutions that will be a legacy for future generations and improve quality of life.
Tell us a surprising or unique story about yourself:
I was very lucky to ride from Victoria to St. Johns by bike while in highschool. The journey took 65 days of pedalling but each day closer to the end I realized that the biking itself was simply a matter of repeating what I had done the day before. The real accomplishment wasn’t my biking, it was the support of my family, the access to the roads and the safety of communities across the country that made my journey possible. To me the opportunity to contribute to government is a way give back and to ensure that same support is available to others on their own journey.
Abbotsford is split into three ridings, all of which have changed a little since the last election. Click here for a map of the Abbotsford-Mission riding. Click here for a map of Abbotsford South. Click here for a map of Abbotsford West.