Race to watch: Vancouver’s mayoral race serves up some history in the making
No matter who wins the job as Vancouver’s mayor on Oct. 20, history will be made.
Just pick the headline: Vancouver’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor, Vancouver’s first independent mayor since 1972, Vancouver’s youngest mayor since Mike Harcourt was elected in 1981.
In all estimations, the race to replace three-term Mayor Gregor Robertson is wide open. Robertson’s own party, Vision Vancouver, has lost its mayoral candidate. With just a handful of days before the candidate cut-off day Ian Campbell withdrew his name from the race to be Vancouver’s next mayor.
“With the deadline quickly approaching to formally enter the race, I’ve reflected on the political landscape and my complicated personal journey. When I put all these pieces together, it seems clear that the best choice is for me to withdraw as candidate for Mayor of Vancouver,” Campbell said in a statement.
The party is still considering its options for the mayor’s job. But even if the party decides not to field a candidate there will be no shortage of progressive options. Both Shauna Sylvester and Kennedy Stewart are running as independents and have strong ties to the political left.
Sylvester has been the busiest of all the candidates on the policy front. She has released six policy pieces already including on the city’s biggest issues of housing, transit and overall accountability at city hall.
“When I look at the other candidates, there is no one that has the sort of depth of experience, understanding, good governance, financial accountability that I do. I think what I need is to step forward and really try to support the people of Vancouver in finding a way through all of this decisiveness,” said Sylvester. “One of the things I am doing is treating the people of Vancouver like they have brains and they can see ideas and they can grapple with those.”
Kennedy Stewart is the other independent candidate in the race. In terms of political name recognition, Stewart tops the pile having served as a NDP MP for Burnaby South and was recently arrested for protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Stewart will unveil his biggest policy piece, his solutions for addressing housing affordability, on Monday. When asked about what the biggest issue was plaguing Vancouver, the independent mayoral candidate said there is no question of what is on everyone’s mind.
“You can try to talk about other issues but it is all housing. If you are talking to renters, the rent is too high. You campaign in parks and you have people there wanting to talk to you about how they can get off the street. You have gone businesses that are losing employees because they can’t pay them enough so the workers can afford the rents and you have first-time homebuyers, or would-be first-time homebuyers, that can’t get into the market. It is the classic definition of a crisis,” said Stewart.
There won’t be any candidate in Vancouver who doesn’t focus on housing, but at this point, Hector Bremner is the only one to build his entire campaign slogan on it. “Let’s Fix Housing” has been Bremner’s calling card dating back to when he won a by-election to become a Vancouver city councillor. His campaign is now promising to “fix” a number of other issues, but it is housing that weighs most heavily.
Bremner is the youngest candidate in the race, at 38, the same age Gordon Campbell was when he first became the mayor of Vancouver.
“I think what some folks don’t understand about this election — I was being told I was going to split the right. That is nonsense. This is not a right-left election. This is a forward or back election. I think there is a new generation that is taking the reins of leadership here,” said Bremner.
Bremner is running under the Yes Vancouver banner. But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Bremner won his city council seat as a member of the NPA and was hoping to be in the NPA’s mayoral nomination. He had sought the party nomination but was rejected by the party’s board despite being approved by the NPA Green Light Committee.
In the end, Ken Sim emerged as the NPA mayoral candidate. He is also expected to release his full housing platform this week and not yet released any major policy pieces.
Sim calls this election a “deeply personal” matter because some of his friends, neighbours and co-workers are leaving town because they can’t afford to stay in Vancouver.
“I have four boys. My eldest boy turned 17 in July and he doesn’t see a future for himself in Vancouver,” Sim said. “The reality is there are a lot of ideas out there. The difficulty isn’t finding ideas on how to solve it, it is the actual execution and being able to take the ideas and make them a reality. If you look at my background as a chartered accountant, a former banker, I have spent the last 20 years building a home-care company with a lot of moving parts. And the city of Vancouver is a moving organization with thousands of employees and lots of moving parts.”
If Sim wins, he would be Vancouver’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor. The same would be true for Wai Young. The former Conservative MP is running under the Coalition Vancouver banner.
Young says that if she is elected, she would move to remove two bike lanes, one in front of Vancouver General Hospital and the “redundant one” on the Cambie Street bridge. Young would also cancel the proposed bike lane in Kitsilano, and introduce free parking on Sundays and free parking after 8 p.m. every day of the week.
“City Hall is broken. We need strong change and I want to bring common sense back to City Hall. Livability is eroding because Vision and the NPA have betrayed the people in Vancouver and sold us out,” said Young. “There is a war on transportation that is artificially clogging our roads and Vision’s reckless spending has led to punishing taxes that have been condoned by the NPA.”
The Green Party and COPE are not running mayoral candidates. ProVancouver’s David Chen is also planning on being on the ballot for mayor.
Hector Bremner (YES Vancouver)
Ken Sim (NPA)
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver)
David Chen (ProVancouver)
Kennedy Stewart (Independent)
Shauna Sylvester (Independent)
Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st)
Connie Fogal (Idea Vancouver)
Brinder Bains (YES Vancouver)
Taqdir (Taq) Kaur Bhanda (Independent)
Rebecca Bligh (Vision)
Sarah Blyth (Independent)
Christine Boyle (One City)
Diego Cardona (Vision Vancouver)
Adriane Carr (Vancouver Greens)
Glynnis Chan (YES Vancouver)
Glen Chernen (Coalition Vancouver)
Graham Cook (Independent)
Breton Crellin (ProVancouver)
Adrian Crook (Independent)
Heather Deal (Vision)
Melissa De Genova (NPA)
Lisa Dominato (NPA)
Catherine Evans (Vision)
Pete Fry (Vancouver Greens)
Justin P. Goodrich (NPA)
David Grewal (NPA)
Colleen Hardwick (NPA)
Sarah Kirby-Yung (NPA)
Robert McDowell (Independent)
Kathy McGarrigle (NPA)
Raza Mirza (Pro Vancouver)
Derrick O’Keefe (COPE)
Stephanie Ostler (YES Vancouver)
Tanya Paz (Vision)
Spike Peachy (Independent)
Elke Porter (Independent)
Francisco (Jojo) Quimpo (NPA)
Francoise Raunet (Independent)
Rohana Rezel (ProVancouver)
Anne Roberts (COPE)
Jean Swanson (COPE)
Phyllis Tang (YES Vancouver)
Jaspreet Virdi (YES Vancouver)
Michael Wiebe (Vancouver Greens)
David Wong (Vancouver Greens)
Brandon Yan (One City)
Wei Qiao Zhang (Formerly Vision Vancouver, Independent as of Oct. 19)
Erin Shum (Independent)
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