Add another name to the list of contenders for the City of Vancouver’s top job. But this one is a little different: she’s the first independent to enter the race.
Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue executive director Shauna Sylvester will officially announce her bid for the city’s mayoralty on Thursday morning.
Sylvester has worked with the university for 11 years; prior to that she served on the board of Vancity Credit Union, Mountain Equipment Co-Op and the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
Sylvester says her top priority if elected will be the city’s housing affordability crisis.
“My daughter can not afford to live in this city, many of our kids can’t afford to live in this city. We also have a problem with seniors housing,” Sylvester said.
“I’m excited to really sit down and look at how we develop housing that is based on the needs of Vancouverites, not based on the needs of a global community.”
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Sylvester has previously served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing, and said her experience on the board of the province’s BC Assessment Authority bolsters her housing credentials.
Sylvester said she would be happy to accept the backing of any other civic parties willing to support her candidacy, but that if elected she plans to govern as an independent.
That factor will be relevant; on Wednesday, Vision Vancouver said it may not run a mayoral candidate and that it could be open to throwing its support behind another progressive candidate. The Vancouver Green Party also hasn’t decided whether it will field a mayoral candidate.
If elected, Sylvester would also be Vancouver’s first female mayor. It’s a fact that hasn’t escaped her, but she said it isn’t her focus.
“It’s 130 years, we need a female mayor, it’s about time… but I don’t want voters to just vote for me because I’m a woman,” she said. “I want voters to vote for me because I am the most experienced candidate.”
Sylvester isn’t new to Vancouver municipal politics. While she hasn’t run for office before, she has been active with Vision Vancouver since its early days, serving as a former board member and was a founder of “Women in Vision.”
Sylvester said she “hasn’t been very active in the last four years,” and doesn’t think the public will associate her with the party’s baggage.
With her candidacy, Sylvester enters a field that has grown crowded — though largely on the right side of the political spectrum.
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Veteran Park Board Commissioner John Coupar, rookie Coun. Hector Bremner and financial analyst Glen Chernen have all announced plans to seek the Non Partisan Association (NPA) nomination.
Former federal Conservative MP Wai Young is also seeking the top job, running under the banner of the newly-formed Coalition Vancouver.
Several high profile would-be candidates, including NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and NDP MP Don Davies have bowed out of the race.
Vancouverites go to the polls on October 20.