Student elected to Port Moody council

December 01, 2005, vol. 34, no. 7
By Diane Luckow

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At age 23, SFU undergraduate Shannon Watkins is one of the youngest female city councillors in B.C.

She was recently elected to Port Moody city council, winning a seat by 64 votes after a poor voter turnout of just 17.54 per cent of eligible voters.

A political science major, Watkins has been involved in Port Moody politics since she was a youngster, including working to preserve green space on the north shore of Port Moody, now known as Bert Flinn park. Her father, Keith Watkins, has been a Port Moody school trustee for years and she says his civic involvement has had a significant impact on her. Now that she's on the verge of completing her graduation requirements, she says it was a good time to run for public office.

“I'm at a point where I think I can dedicate my young energy to this,” she says. She has put her career goal of teaching on hold for a few years. “I wanted to teach social studies,” she says, “because I really wanted to make younger people aware of the importance of politics and government. Now, by being involved in politics, I feel I can reach even more young people.”

Watkins ran for office on a campaign platform that called for sustainable development, upgraded transportation and public safety. “Port Moody has seen a lot of development in the last couple of years,” she says. “I want to make sure that in the next 10 years transportation is keeping up and even ahead of the game.”

During a frantic four weeks of campaigning, attending classes and writing papers, she says, “My professors were very supportive. I got an extension on one of my papers because with the all-candidates meetings, it was a challenge to juggle everything.”

A background in political science should prove beneficial in city chambers, she says. “I have a structural and academic understanding of politics that the other councillors may not have.”

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