Sayeed will take absence from Penticton council to run provincially

Penticton city councillor Tarik Sayeed is now also an NDP candidate for the May 17 provincial election.

Penticton city councillor Tarik Sayeed has been chosen as the provincial NDP candidate for the Penticton riding.

Along with being a Penticton city councillor, Tarik Sayeed is entering provincial politics as NDP candidate for the Penticton riding.

Sayeed was chosen by the Penticton NDP riding association at a nomination meeting on Nov. 26, running against Toni Boot, a Summerland councillor.

“I am very humbled by the support,” said Sayeed, who took the old-fashioned approach to raising support over the summer, door-knocking.

Read more: Penticton candidates stepping forward for provincial election

“It was enlightening,” said Sayeed. “Being able to meet with them and connect.”

Like Sayeed, this was Boot’s first attempt at provincial politics. She said it was educational.

“I could probably write a book on the things I learned,” said Boot. “I will certainly keep those in mind if I decide to run again.”

Boot said she is disappointed in the loss, not just for herself but her team and supporters.

“Tarik has a big job ahead of him,” said Boot. “Knowing how he gets down and works at the task at hand, I think he will be well prepared when May 9 rolls around.”

Boot, already outspoken at the Summerland council table on social issues, said that won’t change.

“That’s me. That is how I grew up. I have always been an advocate for people that can’t necessarily speak for themselves,” said Boot. “I love being a councillor. The only reason I put my name forward was because I want to serve a larger group of people.”

Sayeed plans to take a leave of absence when the writ is dropped, about a month before the May 7 provincial election.

“I am hoping I can continue (as councillor) until then, because I do see it as a responsibility I need to carry through,” said Sayeed. But if he is successful being elected as the Penticton MLA, Sayeed hopes to also finish his term on council.

Sayeed said he checked with the party and City of Penticton corporate officer Dana Schmidt, and was told it was possible.

“Technically and legally, I can do it. The logistics are a totally different story, that I have to work out if I win,” said Sayeed, adding that it is important to him to meet his responsibilities.

“People elected me for a term. It is a commitment I made and I want to keep it,” said Sayeed.

Sayeed feels he has a good chance to defeat incumbent Liberal MLA Dan Ashton.

“I am looking forward to some intellectual debates,” said Sayeed, adding that he doesn’t want to indulge in any negative campaigning. “My goal is to give just the facts.”

Working with MP Richard Cannings on his successful campaign in 2015, reignited Sayeed’s passion for politics.

“I grew up in a very strong political family. It’s in the blood,” said Sayeed, who grew up in Bangladesh, where, he said,  his grandfather was a freedom fighter and family members continue to serve in a number of elected roles.

“They are fighting for the same ideological NDP values that we have here, said Sayeed in his nomination speech.

“Spending on education is not a waste, it is an investment for our future generation,” said Sayeed, who also spoke about B.C. having the worst cold poverty in Canada during his nomination speech.

Sayeed was a late entry to the NDP nomination race, delaying his announcement until early October, saying he wanted to show he was worthy and had earned it.

“I took a grass root-level approach to connect with hundreds of citizens over the past several months,” said Sayeed in an Oct. 2 interview with the Western News. “The message was loud and clear: you do not need to be a career politician to be an MLA. Rather, citizens need someone who will listen to them, and fight for them, for the right causes.”

Sayeed in his first term as a city councillor, is also on the board of directors for the Penticton and District Community Resource Society and PENMAR Community Arts Society as well as being one of the founding members of Penticton’s ONEWorld Festival.