Inside the leaders’ campaigns

By Shannon Waters September 30, 2020

It’s an election unlike any before, but the leaders of B.C.’s three main parties have surrounded themselves with familiar faces on the campaign trail.
BC Today has learned who is working behind the scenes on the hustings.

The premier’s picks
Many members of NDP Leader John Horgan’s campaign team are straight out of the premier’s office. The squadron is split between party headquarters and the tour team. 
At party HQ, veteran NDP operative Bob Dewar is directing operations. Dewar has been a special advisor in the premier’s office after serving as campaign director in 2017. (He is also the brother of Paul Dewar, a longtime New Democrat MP who died of cancer last year.)

Sage Aaron has shifted her role from communications director for the premier’s office to the campaign team. Amber Hockin — formerly deputy chief of staff to the premier — has taken on the (very 2020) role of director for Covid compliance. Rounding out the HQ team is BC NDP’s acting provincial director Heather Stoutenburg.

Joining Horgan on the campaign bus — and reprising her special advisor role during the 2017 election — is Marie Della Mattia, a veteran campaigner and current fellow with the NDP-friendly Broadbent Institute. Jen Holmwood, formerly the premier’s press secretary, is now serving as campaign press secretary.

Keeping the wheels rolling smoothly is “wagonmaster” Laura Ziemba — who served as tour manager for Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s 2018 campaign. Horwath’s party jumped from third-party status to official Opposition that year. 
Liberal legacy lineup
Leader Andrew Wilkinson tapped trusted loyalists for his campaign team.
Emile Scheffel, the BC Liberal Party’s executive director, is at the helm as his campaign manager, and Ina Gjoka is serving as operations lead. Gjoka is the long-time tour operations manager for the Liberal caucus.

Veteran Liberal staffer Shane Mills is leading the campaign’s issues management operations; he previously served as executive director of issues management for the caucus. Derek Cummings — a senior research manager for the Liberal caucus — is policy lead for the Liberal leader’s campaign. 

Handling media relations are Rachael Segal and Carlie Pochynok. Segal is a senior director for the party while Pochynok handled comms for the Liberal caucus.
Green team
In comparison, Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau has the leanest staffing situation. 
Green Party executive director Jonina Campbell is running the show with Jillian Oliver serving as senior advisor. OIiver was press secretary to former Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and also co-managed Furstenau’s leadership bid. 
Rounding out the Green leader’s team is Evan Pivnick. He shares the title of senior advisor after serving as the party’s chief of staff in the legislature.

Each party has developed safe campaigning rules, informed by the provincial health officer’s recommendations, including limiting the number of attendees at any in-person events and minimizing contact between campaign teams to reduce the risk of transmission.