A phrase often repeated these days is that political power doesn't change the individuals elected to those roles. Rather, it reveals who they really are.
Over the past 20 years, area residents have learned who Shirley Bond is and they like what they see.
With Saturday night's projected election win, Bond tied Ray Williston's record of six straight election victories as a Prince George MLA. Williston served for 19 years, from 1953 to 1972, so Bond will pass Williston in years in office next year, her 20th anniversary as a local MLA.
Provincially, she joins a select group. The only woman who has served longer in the legislature than she has is Linda Reid, who just recently retired as a Liberal MLA after nearly 30 years in office.
Bond, however, served in more senior roles than Reid. During the 16 years the B.C. Liberals held power from 2001 to 2017, she was in cabinet the whole time as deputy premier, transportation minister, education minister, advanced education minister and health minister at various points. She was the first woman and the first non-lawyer to serve as attorney general solicitor general.
In other words, there's no question the most powerful woman in B.C. politics during the past 20 years has been the MLA from Prince George-Valemount.
All of her experience couldn't have prepared her for the double whammy of this election. Besides campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time the 63-year-old ran for office without Bill, her husband of 40 years at her side. He died of a stroke in June.
“I have never campaigned for anything without Bill by my side, so I’m under no illusions that for me personally this will be new, doing this without my best friend and life partner alongside me,” said Bond in September after the election was announced. “But I do know in my heart Bill also loved where we live and he would want strong and consistent leadership, someone who’s got a proven track record."
In an increasingly bitter partisan landscape, Bond has remained true to her self, staying on the high road by criticizing but never attacking, never withholding support, keeping an open door and dialogue even with her political opponents.
Some of that has been on full display over the past few months, particularly on Twitter between Bond and health minister Adrian Dix. Bond has been appreciative for Dix's work during the pandemic and has not shied away from saying so.
When the NDP government promised last month, days before the election call, to build a new surgical tower at University Hospital of Northern B.C., Dix made a point of singling out Bond.
"I’ve spoken to (Prince George-Valemount MLA) Shirley Bond many times about this because she and I have a good relationship and she’s an advocate for this project as am I," he said.
Now that's respect.
It's so refreshing and positively old-fashioned to see politicians putting aside party differences to benefit the people they serve.
Devotion to the community where she was born in 1956 and to the surrounding region, her incredible work ethic and her ability to step up to meet the challenges of the day have all been hallmarks of Bond's tenure.
It's been said more than once that Bond can hold on to Prince George-Valemount for as long as she likes, even if she were to choose to run as an independent candidate.
That's because her constituents know she'll work just as hard to represent them as she always has.
That's just who she is.
And what a special, enduring gift that is.