On October 15, the municipal elections were held in Port Coquitlam for city council, and there was a former Rapid on the ballot. Justin Smith, a Riverside Rapid alumnus, was seeking to be elected to the Port Coquitlam city council. In the end, he lost by just over a thousand votes to Paige Petriw.
Smith graduated from Riverside in 2016 and went on to study at SFU in the political sciences program. His passion for politics began at Riverside. After joining the Journalism class at Riverside, combined with Social Studies and History courses, his interest in the political process grew. “I started taking the Journalism course in grade nine, and I was immediately given the opportunity to go through and write editorials and start thinking about counterpoints, and that really started to get me more engaged in the political system and thinking about world and community events,” said Smith. He continued to say that “with social studies and seeing how the world works, the two classes together inspired me to write and learn more about that level of politics.” Now Smith is working for an organization called New Mode, that helps people get into contact with their local elected officials.
Smith was hoping to follow in the footsteps of another Riverside alumnus, Mayor Brad West, who was elected to council in 2008 at the age of twenty-three and elected Mayor in 2018. “He is doing a good job,” said Smith. “The city is behind him, and what that shows to me is that investing in young politicians works.” Smith was hoping to inspire more people to vote, as there was only 28.11% of the population who voted in the 2018 elections. Sadly, this wish was not successful as only 18.25% of Port Coquitlam residents voted in 2022. Smith is also hoping to see an increase in the number of young people who are active in politics at the municipal level, which is the level that individuals can have a direct impact on the issues that affect their daily lives.
Smith was running on the platform of sustainability and affordability, centering much of his focus around the question of, ‘How do we get people out of their cars?’ Smith added that “you can only catch the West Coast Express in the morning and in the afternoon rush-hour. As you know, we don’t have a sky train in Port Coquitlam, which is something I’d love to see.”
The results of the election led to the five incumbents who were running being elected, so that left the one spot that was taken by Paige Petriw. The role of mayor and school board trustees went uncontested and was acclaimed by incumbent mayor West and incumbent trustees Christine Pollock and Michael Thomas.
During the election campaign, the candidates came to Riverside to talk to Social Studies teacher Brian Chan’s Socials 10 class. Students listened to the candidates (including Smith) and were able to ask questions of the candidates.