Dean Drysdale says he didn’t grow up in a particularly political family, but he caught the political bug early.
Drysdale, who was raised in Langley, is running as the Conservative candidate in the new Langley City-Cloverdale riding.
He jumped into politics for the first time when he joined the Conservatives at age 12. Bob Wenman was the MP for the Langley area at the time.
“He made it a point to get young people involved in politics,” said Drysdale.
In 1980, he spent the summer months working for Wenman’s office in Ottawa.
Drysdale would go on to study in Quebec and France, but for a time he thought of himself primarily as a businessman.
He also served in the Canadian Army Reserves, as an artillery officer with the 15th Field Regiment, and has the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and commanding the unit, as well as serving as a liaison officer with the Joint Task Force Pacific HQ.
It was in the 1990s that he would get back into politics, through his friendship with then-Township mayor John Scholtens.
Scholtens recruited Drysdale to the Langley Leadership team during a fractious time in civic politics. As a reservist, Drysdale couldn’t run for federal office, but he could run locally.
“I was quite proud of the things we did,” said Drysdale. Some of the projects started under the LLT included the Walnut Grove pool and the 208th Street overpass.
However, there were also public hearings that stretched to 4 a.m. and a divided council. The LLT was eventually voted off the council in the early 2000s.
Drysdale said he feels they got the substantive issues right, but should have spent more time making sure everyone felt heard.
“It’s as much about process as outcome,” he said.
Although he had first been a conservative, Drysdale joined the Canadian Alliance – the re-branded Reform Party – in 2000, and ran under then-leader Stockwell Day as a parachute candidate in a Quebec riding.
With the Alliance having difficulty finding people locally, the French-speaking Drysdale was recruited. He said he had almost no money for the campaign.
“People were very friendly,” he said of his reception in his first federal race.
A longtime Langley Township resident, Drysdale has now moved literally to the opposite side of 200th Street to find a home in his new riding.
Locally, big issues he’s hearing about on the doorsteps include crime, especially in Surrey, and transit. Drysdale said he would love to see a local transit plan that can attract federal support.
The election is Oct. 19.