For Sonia Furstenau, her heart is where her kids are.
Furstenau, MLA for the Cowichan Valley and leader of the BC Green Party, has announced she intends to run in the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding in the next provincial election, which is scheduled for later this year.
Her decision comes after the province’s legislature introduced amendments to the Electoral Districts Act in April to increase the number of ridings in B.C. from 87 to 93 in an effort to ensure votes in provincial elections are weighted evenly across the province.
One of those changes includes taking Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay and Cobble Hill from the Cowichan Valley electoral district and making those communities part of a reconfigured Juan de Fuca-Malahat riding to the south.
At the time, Furstenau, who has lived in Shawnigan Lake for 11 years and has a solid base of political support there, said she intended to continue to live in the community and run for the Green Party in the Juan de Fuca-Malahat riding in the next election.
But she said her and her husband, Blaise Salmon, have decided since then that the best decision for their family is to move to Victoria-Beacon Hill, where she grew up and has long family roots, to be close to their children.
“It all comes down to where our kids are,” Furstenau said.
“Our son got married in the summer and now lives in Victoria where they want to start raising a family, and I’m so ready to be a grandmother. Our middle son is in his first year at the University of Victoria and needs a place to live, but it’s so expensive there so he will stay with us. As well, our young daughter is graduating high school and has applied to UVic.”
Furstenau said the top priority for her and Blaise is to be close to their children, so it makes sense at this time to have a home in Victoria, and a decision had to be made.
“I met with my core team and volunteers in the Cowichan Valley when I informed them of our decision, and tears were shed,” she said.
As for her chances of winning the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding, which has voted for NDP candidates in every election since 2005, in the next election, Furstenau said she grew up in the neighbourhood and her family has been there for generations, so she has a lot of connections in the riding.
She said people in Victoria-Beacon Hill, and across B.C., want solid representation on a number of core issues, and the Green Party is the only political voice in the province calling for the protection old-growth forests and making B.C.’s communities resilient and secure with ongoing climate change.
“These issues are important to the people in Victoria-Beacon Hill and across the province,” she said.
“There’s never been a hill that I’ve never wanted to climb. I see myself as the relentless underdog.”