From policing to politics – a well-known public face of the Surrey RCMP is diving in to represent the BC Liberals in the upcoming Surrey South byelection.
Sgt. Elenore Sturko – announced Thursday (May 5) as the riding’s candidate – said getting into politics is something that has been on her mind for the past few years.
But the move to actually follow that path arrived earlier than expected, after she was approached about a month ago by BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon and his team.
“It did feel like a right fit,” Sturko said Thursday, shortly after her candidacy was made public.
Citing a desire to make a difference that’s been particularly driven by her experience as an officer dealing with the opioid crisis, the South Surrey mother of three – described as “a champion of human rights and… matters related to gender, sexual orientation, harassment, equity, and inclusivity”– said a co-ordinated approach to the problem is what’s needed, not simply talk.
“They’ve had five years and in that time, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people that died. Prices are getting higher and higher,” she said, referring to commitments made by the NDP that remain outstanding.
“We need more than promises, we need action. When I get to Victoria, my plan is to hold them accountable.”
In a news release issued Thursday, Falcon said Sturko’s experience working on the front lines of the opioid crisis and tackling issues facing young families in Surrey “will be a great asset for our caucus.”
Sturko has been a Mountie since 2009, and policing in Surrey since 2018. Prior to joining the RCMP, she worked in media production and as a reservist with the Canadian Forces.
She has long been active in initiatives aimed at raising awareness and instilling acceptance of those in the LGBTQ+ community, including publishing a book about her uncle, who was a victim of Canada’s LGBT purge.
Describing her political journey as driven by a desire to make a difference, Sturko acknowledged that “everybody (vying for votes) says that.”
At the same time, “I have things to share in Victoria that I do believe can make a difference.”
The opioid crisis, she said, is not just an issue for police, and the solution needs a holistic approach. As well, it – along with issues such as health care, education and transportation – is not unique to one area of the city or province.
“These are things we all have in common, that we all need to fight for.”
In a video shared on Twitter, she said seeing the true suffering with the opioid crisis “changed me,” and she wanted to “take my knowledge to the next level.”
I’m excited to announce I’m running as the BC Liberal candidate in Surrey South.— Elenore Sturko (@elenoresturko) May 5, 2022
I look forward to working hard to earn the trust of Surrey South voters so I can join Kevin Falcon and the BC Liberal team to bring real solutions to the problems facing our community. #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/qyt4HpdArw
Sturko is currently on leave from the RCMP, and said she will resign if her bid for the Surrey South seat is successful.
It was previously held by Stephanie Cadieux, who stepped down at the end of April to become Canada’s first Chief Accessibility Officer.
In 2020, Cadieux narrowly defeated NDP candidate Pauline Greaves (12,970 votes to 11,794) to hold onto the seat.
The NDP do not yet have a candidate for the riding, however, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Mike Starchuk issued a statement Thursday afternoon to welcome Sturko to the race – and criticize Falcon.
Starchuk said while Sturko is a “qualified candidate,” Falcon “has a record of making life harder for people in Surrey.” He cited bridge tolls, cuts to services, a promise to halt work on Surrey’s new hospital and a refusal to “invest properly in Surrey schools as the community grew.”
Dianne Watts, a former Surrey mayor and Conservative MP who took a run at leadership of the provincial Liberals in 2017, voiced support for Sturko to fill the void.
“Elenore brings a unique perspective to politics and to the discussion that needs to occur if we are going to seriously deal with the important issues that face the people of Surrey South and the entire province of BC,” Watts said in the BC Liberals’ release.
“I am proud to endorse her as I strongly believe it is important to ensure there is a pathway into politics for strong and accomplished women.”
Sturko joins a list of Surrey Mounties who have crossed over into Surrey politics: Coun. Jack Hundial was a Mountie for 25 years before entering politics; Surrey-Guildford NDP MLA Garry Begg, who defeated Liberal MLA Amrik Virk, also a former Surrey Mountie; and Mike Runte, who ran as an independent in the 1997 federal election in the Surrey Central riding.
– with files from Tom Zytaruk
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