DOORSTEP: Andy Stranack and Lurline Deslandes whose son was shot to death in 2010
THE CONSERVATIVE candidate in the upcoming Croydon North by-election has outlined why voters should elect him for the seat.
Croydon resident Andy Stranack was a policy writer at Croydon Council but quit his job to mentor young people living in the area.
He told The Voice: "Over the years I realised the policies I was writing at the council were having little impact on the young people I was working with on the estates. So, in 2000, I gave up my job, sold my house and moved there myself."
The 42-year-old now runs charity Ment4 which helps support young people excluded from schools.
But when one of his mentees died from a stab wound he decided to get into politics to make a positive difference, he said.
“In 2004 a young person I was mentoring on the Monks Hill Estate got stabbed to death," said Stranack.
"It made me realise that my local work wasn’t enough. I needed to get involved in politics to change policy at a national level."
If elected, Stranack wants to improve the relationship between young people and the police by "organising a series of community event where the police can engage with the young people."
He also wants to create a safer community in Croydon North as a priority.
Stranack added that he also felt he had the right vision to appeal to black voters who represent a large section of the constituency.
He said: “When I go on the doorstep what I hear from the black community is their concerns for good schools. They want strong families and an economy that works. They think crime is too high. I think all of these are actually conservative policies.”
Lurline Deslande, whose son Darren Deslande, has pledged her support to Stranack despite previously being a strong supporter of the late MP Malcolm Wicks whose death prompted the upcoming by-election.
Stranack is expected to finish third behind Labour favourite Steve Reed, the former leader of Lambeth Council, and equalities activist Lee Jasper who is standing for the Respect party.
Both have criticised the coalition government for closing South Norwood police station.
Stranack said: “The police station is closing but it has not been functional for about a year because police resources have been operating from other bases around the borugh.
"There is a new police counter opened on Windmill Road. The answer is to have more police counters in places that people are going to be....people just don’t go to police stations. They report crime online now and, generally, most people do not view their police station like they used to."
Other candidates in the running include former boxer Winston McKenzie for the UK Independence Party, Shasha Khan of the Green Party and former Islington councillor Marisha Ray standing for the Liberal Democrats.