MLA Stilwell responds

Decorated Paralympic athlete reacts to criticism that she is not spending enough time in the constituency

Michelle Stilwell has read the letters to the editor and comments in other media critical of her absences from this region while she competes on the world wheelchair racing scene.

The Parksville Qualicum MLA was asked what she thought about those criticisms in an interview with The NEWS this week.

“It’s not affecting me because I know I’ve been working hard,” said Stilwell. “We’ve been helping constituents for the past couple of months.”

Stilwell, a multi-gold-winner at the Paralympics, recently competed at the world championships in France, where she won two gold medals and set a new world record.

Stilwell said she has been busy attending a number of local events, including last weekend’s Kidfest in Parksville where she stood in as emcee. She said a number of local issues have been keeping her busy, including the newly-opened Oceanside Health Centre and the ongoing saga of the possible re-start of passenger rail service on the Island.

“I’ve been pretty focussed on learning my role as MLA,” Stilwell said. “I’m trying to get a feel for whatever is going on — the more we talk with people, the more we learn.”

While the phones haven’t been hooked up yet, Stilwell’s Parksville constituency office is open on the 1200 block of the Island Highway, in the same shopping plaza as Serious Coffee.

Stilwell won election as a B.C. Liberal Party MLA on May 14 in a landslide, trouncing her nearest opponent, the NDP’s Barry Avis, by more than 3,500 votes and garnering more than 50 per cent of the popular vote in the constituency.