Vancouver's Suzanne Anton squeaks back into politics

Like many longtime politicians, Suzanne Anton has known both victory and defeat. But the B.C. Liberals' stunning sweep to a fourth term in power was especially sweet for the Vancouver-Fraserview Liberal candidate who captured a seat alongside 49 of her colleagues for a majority government.

"This time I won with the team, so there is a real wonderful pleasure in that, which I am very happy about," she said Wednesday morning.

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First elected to public office in 2002 as a park board commissioner under the NPA, Anton sat on city council for two terms between 2005 and 2011. During her second term she was the sole NPA representative on city council. Her political fortunes turned in 2011 when she ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the civic race and was defeated by Vision Vancouver's Gregor Robertson.

In February, she battled and lost to Andrew Wilkinson for the Vancouver-Quilchena Liberal nomination. But less than a month later, Anton was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.

She captured 9,127 votes in Tuesday's election, compared to NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu's 8,581. Green Party candidate Stuart Mackinnon won 1,053 votes and Conservative Rajiv Pandey collected 578. Anton acknowledged election-night nerves. "Right up until they counted the advance polls I was really not sure, even though the pundits said I was the winner. I know that there were 4,000 votes in the advance polls and until those were counted I wasn't going to feel completely comfortable. Once those were done and accounted for then I was fine."

Anton said she never imagined she'd end up in politics until after she ran for the park board. "It never crossed my mind," she said. "I came into politics to get things done. I came into politics to get better soccer fields and I went to the city to build a better city and now I'm in provincial [politics] to build a better British Columbia."

Anton knocked on thousands of doors in the ethnically diverse neighbourhood during the campaign and said she was received warmly. Tuesday night she told the Courier she never heard comments about the pipeline on doorsteps, but clarified on Wednesday to say she heard it a couple times, but not as often as the issue was raised in neighbourhoods such as Vancouver-Point Grey. "But in this neighbourhood, people tended to think more about taxes and economic wellbeing and when I talked to them about the B.C. Liberal message, people were really very responsive to that."

Anton hopes to see more of the province as an MLA and said she's "very happy" to be working with newly elected Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan again. "Then there's local issues like the issue of the seniors centre at Killarney, which I've been involved in for many years but has never gotten off the ground and now I'm determined to get it off the ground," she said.

Mackinnon hopes she keeps her promise to help fund the remaining half of a seniors centre in southeast Vancouver. "She better pony up for that seniors centre," he said. "She made that promise at an all-candidates meeting and I'm going to hold her to it."

Anton won't speculate what riding Liberal leader Christy Clark, who lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat to the NDP's David Eby, will end up in. "I will say one thing though - it is universally agreed that Christy should have a seat - she totally rocked in this election and that she lost in her own riding is most unfortunate, but she won the day."

noconnor@vancourier.com

twitter.com/naoibh

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