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Sorting out the Vision candidates

September 12th, 2008 · No Comments

I didn’t go to the presentations this week by the Vision candidates for the three slates, but I read and heard a fair bit about them.

It was a relief to have people talking about the issues, I sensed, instead of the jostling for votes and slate inclusion that has dominated for the past while. But one thing I noticed that in people’s comments about the three evenings was that, even though the sessions were about issues, the number of candidates is so overwhelming that the focus ended up being less on specific policy suggestions than how the candidates came across: knowledgeable, nervous, relaxed, funny, trying too hard, and so on.

In addition to the commentary from Charles Menzies about the school candidates that I posted previously, the only other coverage was from The Tyee, which I’ll link to here.

Given my secondhand knowledge, I won’t presume to give a comprehensive summary, but just a few of the highlights I heard:

James Gill at park board, a director at the West Point Grey Community Association, impressed the crowd with his extensive knowledge and take on the issues. Gill, by the way, has what may be the most impressive resume of any of the Vision candidates. According to his website, he “works as a negotiator with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in the area of education self-government. Previously, he was a foreign service officer, representing Canada as a diplomat in Hong Kong, Beijing and New York before returning to Vancouver in 2000.”

At the council roundabout, Heather Deal, Geoff Meggs and David Eby stood out because of their grasp of city issues and their specific proposals for new kinds of approaches to tackling things like garbage, homelessness, and affordable housing. And Rey Umlas got people’s attention with his eloquence and passion in his presentation.

At school, it was Helesia Luke, Patti Bacchus and Mike Lombardi who impressed people.

Unfortunately for these candidates, though, the vast majority of Vision members were not in attendance. The council night drew only about 250 people and the other two less than that. All of which means that many of the anticipated three, four or five thousand people who show up to vote on Sept. 20 are going to be voting 1. on the basis of public or not-so-public slates in circulation 2. on the basis of phone calls, emails and printed information that some candidates have had the time/energy/money to get out to their own sign-ups and/or a larger slate. As we speak, emails, circulars, and phone calls are bombarding various sets of Vision members.

The presumption for several weeks has been that the list of 3,000-something members that Raymond Louie signed up is available to people he endorsed: George Chow, Heather Harrison, Kerry Jang, Geoff Meggs, Kashmir Dhaliwal at council; Narinder Chhina at school; and Raj Hundal and Tony Kosovic at parks. This week, people from the Gregor Robertson side of the 5,000-plus Vision sign-ups started getting the emails and, in one case, letters from certain candidates: Andrea Reimer, David Eby, and Catherine Evans at council. (Robertson isn’t officially endorsing anyone but the incumbents, but that doesn’t mean his sign-up list, or parts of it, can’t go walking with the help of any number of people who’d have access to them.)

All of that means certain candidates have a lot of poker chips piled up on their squares. But there’s a bit of nervousness as people are starting to wonder whose sign-ups are actually going to come out and what the impact of the cross-endorsements (or non-endorsements) is actually going to have. I’ve heard that even the safest-seeming of the current councillors are antsy about which way the winds might blow next Saturday, depending on whose sign-ups turn out to vote and who they pick besides the members of their own coalition.

For anyone who doesn’t know yet, Vision voters won’t be allowed to give their preferred candidates a boost by voting only for them and none others. Anyone who fills out a ballot for any of the slates has to have the full number of Xs for that slate: eight for council, four for school, four for parks. The only way to skip voting for candidates is by not casting a ballot at all for that slate. So there’s no knowing absolutely what might happen as second choices started to accumulate votes.

Categories: 2008 Vancouver Civic Election