I dropped by the Non-Partisan Association’s campaign-office opening tonight on Broadway, a lovely — okay, functional — spot above a row of Asian/Indian/Italian restaurants just west of Cambie. (I highly recommend Shalin Noodles, folks — hand-made noodles, excellent green beans and garlic — to carry you through those late-night strategy sessions.) All the usual suspects were on hand to celebrate the joyous occasion. I think I saw all the candidates, including one not yet cleared to run, except park-board hopeful Marty Zlotnik and several current councillors who are out of town at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
It sounds like, from what I picked up from various parties, that the NPA is planning to have a full slate in place for council and school board, but there won’t be any competition for the spots. (At this point, say those pondering the issue, it’s hard to accept more candidates than spots because the newcomers would have no chance to sign up members.)
We’ll be waiting for more news on that, since there are currently only eight council candidates, with the official arrival tomorrow of Sean Bickerton, for the 10 spots, and only six of nine school board candidates now cleared to run. (The latest was physician Lakhbir Singh.)
That means that only those supporting the four park-board candidates running — Melissa DeGenova, Wai Sin, Naresh Shukla, and Marty Zlotnik — will be very motivated to show up to vote. If anyone gets elected just on sheer determination, it will be realtor Wai Sin, who has been relentlessly showing up at every public event to get the word out about herself.
It is quite fascinating, by the way, to listen to people from the two front-running parties talk about what kind of control should be exerted over candidates. The current NPA board members really believe it’s their job to make sure there’s a geographic/gender/ethnic balance among the candidates and that candidates who aren’t a good fit are discouraged from running. Their screening also assesses at candidates’ ability to work with a team and to be reliable.
On the other side of the fence, at Vision Vancouver, the philosophy is: The people will decide if someone is a nutcase. The wisdom of the crowd will also determine the mix of the slate.
Well, that’s the theory, anyway. It has its obvious risks. As well, there are less obvious risks, like the one that some people will feel that party leaders are subtly pushing for certain candidates and not others, in spite of the democracy talk. Those sentiments may be based on no hard evidence at all, but as this election is reminding me once again, people who think they are losing in a political race rarely seem to come to the conclusion that they’re losing just because they didn’t appeal to enough people.