Richmond’s Howard not running in next election; MLA cites ‘personal reasons’
Rob Howard, MLA for Richmond Centre, has announced he won’t run in the next provincial election.
Howard, who has been involved in municipal or provincial politics for 12 years, said his decision was based purely for “personal reasons,” adding that he and his wife, Trudy, want to cross off more things on their bucket-list.
He won the riding with consummate ease in 2009, bagging 61 per cent of the vote.
“…I will continue to work hard to ensure the BC Liberal team gets re-elected. I have a strong belief that it can, and will, happen,” said Howard in a statement.
Howard said the time had come to “spend more time with my family.
“The demands of political life make this difficult if not impossible. Some of you may know that my wife Trudy is a two-time breast cancer survivor, the last time was during the 2009 campaign.
“She is doing very well now; however we have a few other things on our ‘bucket list’ we would like to accomplish.”
Howard’s decision to give up a relatively safe seat appears to have caught many in Richmond’s political world off guard.
Coun. Ken Johnston, himself a former Liberal MLA and who counts himself as personal friend of Premier Christy Clark, said he was “shocked” by the announcement.
“I didn’t see that one coming, especially as Richmond Centre is a fairly safe seat,” added Johnston, who ruled himself out of a return to provincial politics.
“Although, despite what people think, it’s an extremely difficult lifestyle going back and forth, back and forth to Victoria.
“But it is still very surprising.”
Veteran councillor Bill McNulty was similarly taken aback to hear of Howard stepping down.
“It is surprising, but I can understand his commitment to his family, family must come first,” he said.
Although there appears to be no obvious Liberal candidate to fill Howard’s shoes, names such as BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins, a former Richmond East MP, and local lawyer Richard Lee, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last fall, are being bandied about.
Cummins has yet to name the riding he’ll run in since taking over the B.C. Tories hot seat last year and he may see his old stomping ground as an ideal opportunity.
While Lee told the News he’d consider running should any of the parties get in touch with him.
He added, however, that he’d prefer to see someone from the current city council step up and run for MLA, opening the window for him to run for council in the subsequent by-election.
Meanwhile, Howard thanked the premier for having the confidence to appoint him to a number of positions including chair of the Finance Committee, and most recently as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transportation.
“This has allowed me to tackle issues which are important to me, and in fact are the reasons that drove me to into politics in the first place,” said Howard.
“To my wife Trudy, and my son Jay, who have supported me and played a big part in the success I have enjoyed, and to my riding executive who have been invaluable to me as an MLA, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“Finally, I want to thank the citizens of Richmond who have entrusted me with public office. It has been a true pleasure serving the most diverse and dynamic city on the planet. I have met many new friends and acquaintances and I look forward to staying in touch with you all in the future.”
Premier Clark commended Howard for his “passion and dedication” to the job and to the people of Richmond.