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Gays to face-off in Vancouver-West End riding this May

Herbert will face McDiarmid; Lam will run next door

Two gay contenders will square off for the seat in the new riding of Vancouver-West End this May when BC goes to the polls.

Spencer Herbert, NDP MLA in Vancouver-Burrard, will face Liberal Laura McDiarmid.

Both say the issues in the riding involve violence against the gay community, homelessness and the rental crisis.

“My heart is in the West End,” says McDiarmid.

Herbert says he welcomes the challenge from his former NPA colleague on the parks board where he sat as a COPE commissioner.

McDiarmid ran as the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Hastings in 2005 but lost to New Democrat Shane Simpson.

She had been vice-president of the Pride Society until she resigned Monday.

On the other side of Burrard St, Vancouver Pride Society board member Ray Lam is the Vancouver-False Creek NDP candidate in the May 12 provincial elections.

Lam will be running against Liberal Mary McNeil, the former president and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation.

Nominations for the NDP candidacy in that riding closed Mar 7 with Lam as the only contender in that riding.

Lam sought a Vision Vancouver nomination to run for city council in last November’s civic elections but was not selected by the party.

“I’m not looking for just an elected position,” he says. “A lot of my concerns in the municipal election are concerns now.”

Lam says he has concerns about the cuts to social services not only in the riding, but also all over the province.

He notes those cuts have impacted queer youth organizations such as Youthquest and GAB Youth Services.

Lam also points to the northeast section of the riding, which is currently vacant land (between BC Place and Science World). He says work needs to be done to ensure it retains a community feel as development there moves ahead.

Lam was also recently appointed to the City of Vancouver planning commission, and has served as Egale’s BC/Yukon regional director, and is also a founding member of Vancouver InterPride.

The new Vancouver-West End and Vancouver-False Creek ridings were created out of the old riding of Vancouver-Burrard, which was held by former MLA Lorne Mayencourt for the Liberals.

Herbert, who is gay, took the seat in a by-election last October, after Mayencourt stepped down to run unsuccessfully for the Conservative Party in the last federal election.

Queer MLA Jenn McGinn has also retained the NDP candidacy in her Vancouver-Fairview riding.

She’s facing a rematch against Liberal Margaret MacDiarmid. The pair faced off in last fall’s pair of by-elections that also saw Herbert defeat Liberal Arthur Griffiths.

At least three other queer NDP candidates are in nomination races across the province. It’s not known if the Liberals are fielding any queer candidates.

Mayencourt was the only openly gay Liberal MLA elected in 2005.