Over the course of the last several months, I’ve had the honour and privilege of getting to know a ton of Vancouver election candidates. I’ve really struggled with how to handle support and endorsements, and to be entirely honest, I’m still deciding on council. Not because there are so many that it’s confusing – but because there are truly so many quality options.
I’m not sure how many of you have sat on a board before. It’s a labour of love, and a level of giving a fuck that is most often thankless. At least the level of scrutiny for most boards is decently minimal. You rarely have to worry that a decision you make will land you in the news, or illicit social media trolling.
I think about how important the personalities on boards are – more than the issues they/we discuss, in many cases. Board members provide perspective and wisdom from their lived experience. The really good ones are prepared for long and often boring conversations about minutia, and how it deeply effects our everyday lives, as banal as it may be – while keeping their eye on their mission, their purpose.
Boards are leadership teams. They govern our lives in subtle ways, and we rarely get an opportunity to weigh in on their composition. When you vote, you get to put together a team that you think is most likely to represent you and what you care about. It’s like Fantasy Football, but with a real, actual impact on your daily life and what happens to you.
I wish more people understood this, and realized that when we get to vote, we’re hiring the group of people who will help us shape our future. The future of our City and our neighbourhoods. Though it’s repetitive, I think it’s essential to keep in mind the idea of “getting to vote” – this is a privilege that should not be discounted.
When you’re considering how to assemble your team, I hope you’ll keep representation in mind, more than anything else. I hope you’ll consider that every community deserves a voice in City Hall, and it matters most of all to have a diversity of voices. As for the order here, I’m listing these suggestions with an eye on diversity and representation, from a gender, race, sexual orientation and socio economic perspective – broad strokes for keeping in mind that we need to promote and support leaders who resonate with the communities that make up our cities, who will keep every distinct community’s interests in mind.
Who I think you should consider and why:
Taq Bhandal – badass scholar of gender, race, sexuality, and social justice from a public health perspective and with an intersectional lens that will be crucial to the next steps of our multicultural development.
Tanya Paz (Vision) – Transportation advocate. Open and engaging – she feels like good people. I also get the solid feeling that she’s great in meetings, of any kind.
Sarah Blyth – The DTES is going to need a strong advocate in place for the economic and developmental changes that are coming. We need to keep compassion in the forefront.
Christine Boyle (OneCity) – Every board needs Christine’s brand of enthusiasm, coupled with fierce activism and true kindness. An equality warrior that doesn’t alienate people is a force to be reckoned with.
Heather Deal (Vision) – Council is likely to be a real mish mash this time, and we VERY MUCH need some continuity and level headedness to carry through. Proven commitment to supporting arts & culture.
Anne Roberts (Cope) – Quiet, thoughtful. This former city councillor brings social progressiveness, plus a wealth of knowledge about the historical formation of our current bylaws and policy that I think could prove extremely valuable.
Brandon Yan (OneCity) – Deep knowledge about and understanding of civic engagement, and a commitment to community consultation. Advocate for the LGBTQ community.
Abubakar Khan – He might not make it this time, but he’s one to watch. Opened up his mosque as a warming centre a couple of years ago, progressive drug policy ideas, direct and determined.
Diego Andres Cardona (Vision) – Tireless advocate for marginalized youth. Seemingly boundless energy, and life experience that makes him wise beyond his years. Also, Jorge Salazar supports him fiercely. The people with you are important.
Pete Fry (Green) – Profound understanding of policy, and so much willingness to engage with people on the street. Most likely to make time to have a beer with you and listen to your concerns.
Rob McDowell – Extensive experience in politics, and (I say this with great affection) a real municipal politics geek. If someone is paying attention to it all, it’s him. Also, LGBTQ advocate and a voice for the West End.
Michael Wiebe (Green) – Gets the connection between small business and arts & culture, including how legislation can support change in between. Also worth noting, shows up for just about everything.
Adrian Crook – This guy walks his talk. It takes guts to stand up for independence for your kids, and every day rights. Whether or not you align with his housing perspectives (many do), his focus will be housing.
Graham Cook – Young and earnest, he’s thoughtful about inclusion and accessibility from a health perspective. He’s definitely running because he cares, and would bring that with him.
For mayor, I think we need to choose Shauna Sylvester.
I’ve had a bunch of conversations on this topic, and I understand various arguments for Kennedy Stewart, ranging from being the best advocate/representative for labour, to being the strongest anti pipeline advocate, to providing strength for the potential of provincial NDPs next term, to the idea that if we don’t all get behind one strong candidate, we’re complicit in electing a right leaning mayor. And then I look at the suggestions for change that Kennedy has put forward, and it feels like he’s mostly suggested things that are already in motion. His eye is on provincial politics, and Vancouver will be a new priority.
Those are the arguments for and against Kennedy. What’s the argument for Shauna?
I simply think she’s better suited for the job. It’s not flashy and it’s not personal. I believe her focus will be on Vancouver, and I hope on how to shift some power to our municipality. She has a deep comprehension of policy, and I think she’s best suited to weather the administrative storm that will be the next four years.
Apart from that, I’d love to see some diversity in the role of mayor, I think it sets an important precedent – and that’s a significant factor. I’m a little concerned for Shauna to be a victim of the “glass cliff”.
But all other things aside, if I’m not considering strategy or representation, or anything else – if it’s purely based on who would be better for the job – it’s Shauna, in my opinion.
Park Board Commissioners and School Trustees
Excuse the brevity on my next choices – they’re not less important. One of the challenges of this election is information overload, and it prevented a real deep dive on these candidates.
Gwen Giesbrecht (Cope)
Dave Demers (Green)
Stuart Mackinnon (Green)
Camil Dumont (Green)
Mathew Kagis (Work Less Party)
Diana Day (COPE)
Jennifer Reddy (OneCity)
Lois Chan-Pedley (Green)
Estrellita Gonzalez (Green)
Erin Arnold (Vision)
Carrie Bercic (OneCity)
Aaron Leung (Vision)