In 1987 Bill Copeland of the Burnaby Citizens’ Association began what is now an 18-year hold on that job for the BCA. Copeland defeated incumbent mayor Bill Lewarne by a slight 400-odd vote margin. In their rematch in 1990, during the first synchronized province-wide triennial elections, Copeland beat the Burnaby Voters’ Association’s Lewarne again winning more than 21,000 votes. Copeland won his third and final term in 1993 with 18,335 votes to 6,060 from his challenger, BVAer Elizabeth Elwood. Elwood was a last minute replacement candidate when former Burnaby-Willingdon Social Credit MLA Elwood Veitch, who was scheduled to run, passed away suddenly.
In 1996, Copeland passed the torch to BCA councilor Doug Drummond who win 13,138 in a time of declining voter turnout against a split non-BCA/NDP vote. Current TEAM Burnaby council candidate Gary Begin then of the BVA won half as many votes as Drummond. Current Burquitlam MLA and alleged TEAM fundraiser Harry Bloy of the upstart Burnaby Non-Partisan Association won just approximately 2000 votes. Drummond was re-elected in 1999 with 11,877 votes, less than his next two rivals combined. The merged Burnaby Voters—Non-Partisan Association won 6,622 votes with Ray Power, currently an independent candidate for mayor of Vancouver. Former BCA councilor and lone TEAM incumbent Lee Rankin as an independent won 5,570 votes.
After Drummond, began the era of Derek Corrigan who won the mayor’s chair in 2002 with a 14,402 vote plurality against another split non-BCA/NDP vote. TEAM finished second with 9,172 votes for Brian Bonney. Jim Dixon of the BV-NPA was third with 7,090 votes. Corrigan is seeking re-election this year against TEAM candidate Andrew Stewart and independent Tom Tao.
TEAM Burnaby is saying 2005 is their year to take the mayor’s chair in Burnaby. In the past two elections the BCA has held on to the job but has not won fifty percent of the vote. With the first unified centre-right opposition (if post the 1999 post-BCA/NDP Lee Rankin can be considered as such at that time) to the BCA in over a decade.
The best defense the BCA and Derek Corrigan have against the unified centre-right alternative are the Tom Tao factor and the provincial NDP having been out of power for more than four years now. Former council and MLA candidate Tom Tao may draw some of the ethnic vote that may have previously sympathized with the anti-left party currently represented by TEAM. Tao, on the other hand, could be a non-entity like he was in this year’s Burnaby-Willingdon MLA race. In 1996 and 1999 the BCA bottomed out as their provincial-level wing, the B.C. NDP, bottomed out in the 11,000-plus range. No, non-BCA candidate has broken 10,000 votes in a decade and a half.