Nobody in the NDP wanted to go up against Michelle Mungall for the Nelson-Creston nomination in the 2017 provincial election. So on Saturday she was acclaimed as the candidate.
Mungall was first elected in 2009 and is now coming to the end of her second term.
Now 38, Mungall entered the legislature she was 31, as its youngest female member. By then she had already been elected at age 24 to a term on Nelson City Council as its youngest member ever.
Asked what she has learned over that time, she said, “My understanding of government systems and structures has deepened. I have come to understand what it means to take in a large variety of different viewpoints. I have learned that just by showing up you make a difference. And the same passionate feisty person that was 24 years old still exists.”
She says she enjoys being on the floor of the legislature.
“Whether it is a two hour speech a 30 minute speech or hammering the Liberals on things like Jumbo or the bus pass clawbacks or the maternity leave clawbacks, being able to get up in the house and represent my constituents, I really enjoy it. I really enjoy it.”
What is the biggest challenge she faces? “Travel, especially with the unreliability of the Castlegar airport. And being in opposition.”
“When I put forward a bill for a poverty reduction plan, not once but but four times, and Christy Clark will not even debate it, and I can’t even get a chance to debate it, that is very frustrating, and a major factor in why I want to change seats and move to the government benches.
“In politics there is the good the bad and the ugly, but that is life. There will be hard things to deal with. A lot of things I do on a daily basis don’t make the papers — helping people getting the health care that they need, getting their MSP, getting ID, getting their driveway plowed, those are the types of things my staff and I work on that are an important part of the work. They might know their issue is municipal or federal but they want a sense of how they can address that issue.”
Mungall says she is considered a senior member of caucus now, with her jobs as deputy house leader for the NDP and the party’s social development critic. And she finds herself being a mentor for young women in the caucus — there are four female NDP MLAs under 40.
“There is a crew of us. Younger women making the world a better place.”
She said current polls put the Liberals and the NDP neck and neck.
In the 2013 provincial election, Mungall got 50.73 per cent of the vote, Greg Garbula of the Liberals got 28.32 per cent, and Sjeng Derkx of the Greens got 20.95 per cent.
Neither the Liberals nor Greens have yet named their candidate.