Because Saturday is municipal election day in Vancouver, it’s the week of announcing everyone’s slates, and I don’t intend to break that trend.
Before I state who I’ll be voting for in Vancouver, I want to highlight a couple other worthy candidates in the Lower Mainland.
I’m not too familiar with Burnaby’s politics, but Derek Corrigan’s Burnaby Citizens’ Association has kept Burnaby as one of the best run cities in Canada according to Maclean’s magazine. More importantly though, I strongly urge everyone in Burnaby to vote for the BCA slate for School Board to block any religious homophobic candidates from Parents’ Voice from getting elected. The anti-homophobic bullying policy they recently passed needs a strong voice to continue its implementation to ensure that LGBTQ students feel safe in their schools.
In New Westminster, Humanist Canada’s 2011 Humanist of the Year Lorrie Williams is standing for re-election to council. Vote for her.
Now, on to the main show.
Most endorsement pages are starting with mayor, council, then parks, and school board. Some even omit the school board (I’m looking at you Georgia Straight). To highlight the importance of these other positions, I’m going to reverse this order. Also, make sure to check out the City of Vancouver’s website for full candidate profiles.
Vancouver School Board
Education is key to me, and I think it’s difficult to argue with the results of the progressive Vision-COPE majority on the Vancouver School Board. I will be voting for this entire slate, and hoping that a few new voices make it on to continue defending our public education system. With NPA not running a full slate for VSB, there shouldn’t be many upsets here.
From COPE: Al Blakey, Jane Bouey, Gwen Giesbrecht, Alan Wong.
From Vision Vancouver: Patti Bacchus, Ken Clement, Mike Lombardi, Cherie Payne, Rob Wynen.
Vancouver Parks Board
The past few years saw some precarious times for the Parks board. Budget cuts have threatened the Bloedel Conservatory and the Stanley Park Petting Zoo. Fees have increased and service has stalled or declined. While I still support a strong progressive majority, a few independent voices can keep the board more accountable.
From COPE: Brent Granby, Donalda Greenwell-Baker
From Vision: Constance Barnes, Aaron Jasper, Niki Sharma
From Green: Stuart Mackinnon
From IDEA: Jamie Lee Hamilton
Vancouver City Council
Looking back at my experience since moving to Vancouver, I am mostly proud of the direction this city is headed in. The focus on environmentalism and social justice is important, and there is more work to be done as the Vision radio ads repeat. However, I agree entirely with the Georgia Straight’s recommendations that no democracy is served by overwhelming majorities. Vision Vancouver has had a tendency to muzzle its bureaucrats and avoid community engagement. I also have a personal preference for the underdogs, so I want to see independent voices.
First, I support the entire COPE slate: RJ Aquino, Tim Louis, Ellen Woodsworth. These three individuals will be strong advocates for direct democracy, social justice, and keeping Vancouver as the most progressive city in Canada. COPE was quick to stand in solidarity with Occupy Vancouver and will fight any attempt to send the police in. Ellen’s track record speaks for itself and Tim is an impressive politician.
Next, there are many strong progressive voices in the Vision caucus. Among those who are on my list are there for issues I care about: Kerry Jang for social justice and the homeless, Geoff Meggs for transit issues, and Andrea Reimer for environmentalism. I also appreciate the strong science academic credentials of Deal and Jang.
Finally, to add some independent voices to council, I will be voting for Marie Kerchum and Tim Martin from the Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver slate, Adriane Carr from the Greens, and Sandy Garossino the independent. I flipped around a few times on the NSV slate, but settled on these two based on their responses to the Georgia Straight’s questionnaire. While I will likely disagree with some of these candidates on an issue here or there, they each have the momentum and strength to have a good chance of bringing independent voices to council. I did hesitate on Terry Martin as I found it a bit opportunistic that he sought the NSV nomination after losing his bid for the COPE council nomination.
Overall, we have a great line-up of candidates for council and it’s actually tough to choose which ones to support and who doesn’t quite make the cut. If I could add more, Heather Deal, Raymond Louie and Tim Stevenson are all strong voices in the Vision caucus. I would also support fellow engineer Tony Tang, also on the Vision slate, but I can’t add them all. I also see some utility in having a voice like Chris Shaw’s with De-Growth Vancouver on council. I also respect Lauren Gill for her spirited campaign and solidarity with the Occupy movement. Even some of the NPA candidates warrant a look, but based on Suzanne Anton’s positions and their preference for market solutions, I can’t endorse any of them. Most of my decisions were influence by the Straight’s candidate questionnaire and ample use of red and green pencil crayons. Unfortunately the Vision candidates responded in unison, which is disappointing.
While I was tempted at times to consider Randy Helten with NSV, I think Vancouver is better off with Gregor Robertson, and I can’t let Suzanne Anton win.
Anton’s plans are short-sighted and dangerous. While I like streetcars, her proposal runs counter to Translink’s process and the P3 is risky. Her promise to return surpluses to tax-payers is also short-sighted and forces the city into debt in tough times or when we want to undertake capital expenses (like rapid transit on the Broadway corridor or a downtown streetcar). Her early ads mocking the backyard chicken and wheat field policies are also wrong, and her opposition to bike lanes is counter to the kind of city I want to live in. Finally, her position on Occupy Vancouver is more unreasonable than Rob Ford’s, and that alone should give us pause. If Anton becomes mayor, she will have a riot on her hands when she tries to forcibly shut down the tent city.
Gregor on the other hand has had his issues over the past few years, but overall he is a qualified moderate progressive mayor. While arrogant on a few issues in the past term, he is generally on the right side of the issues and his heart is in the right place.
I didn’t vote in the advance polls, so these picks aren’t set in stone. If you have good arguments why I should switch one way or the other, please suggest them below.
Regardless of how you vote, make sure you do. And then stay involved.
Edited to add:
I forgot that there’s also 3 capital plan referenda on the ballot. They seem procedural and I’m probably going to vote for them unless someone has a good argument why the city shouldn’t have the money it needs to operate.