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The Non-Partisan Association team: What we know, Round 1

June 7th, 2011 · 29 Comments

The NPA gathered Saturday to acclaim its candidates who will form a team of 19 altogether: 11 for council, four for school board, four for park board.

Since some of these mostly newcomers will likely be elected as the city swings back a little from the Vision Vancouver sweep of 2008, it behooves all of us to start getting a handle on who they are so that we’re not surprised when we vote them in.

I biked over to the meeting at the Croatian cultural centre to start getting to know people a little. (It was kind of like a family barbecue there, as the crowd consisted mainly of friends, relatives and campaign managers of the candidates, as far as I could tell.) I had intended mostly to listen to speeches, but some people came over and talked to me so I’ll include all relevants bits of info that I’ve gathered up so far. I’ll focus on the council candidates in this post, to keep this down to a reasonable length:

George Affleck: As I mentioned before, I’ve known George for years because he does work with the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association, an association that I have contact with occasionally, and public relations for other organizations I’ve covered. He lives in a downtown condo in the Downtown South area with his three kids, so he knows what urban density is. He told the crowd and me that he got involved with the NPA because of cutbacks he saw at his childrens’ elementary school, False Creek, that resulted in a two-week closure and charges for things like art supplies. His emphasis in his speech was on making sure small businesses get attention, since they are the real engines of the Vancouver economy.

Elizabeth Ball: Elizabeth was on council in the Sam Sullivan administration, so there’s lots on the record about her that’s available to be looked up. In her speech, she criticized Vision was equivocating about a new Vancouver Art Gallery, when its board is enthusiastic to raise money for a building and site. Ball, who lives with her husband in the Douglas Park area, also said the council is only paying lip service to the arts community and that it has lost its way at Metro Vancouver.

Sean Bickerton: Sean ran for council in 2008 but lost. However, he’s continued to work in the community for various causes, the best-known of which is Vancouver Not Vegas, the anti-casino-expansion coalition. You can read about that in various bits of coverage around. He and his partner, Tom, live in a condo near Tinseltown and is very involved in issues in that sometimes forgotten neighbourhood. He was particularly critical of Vision Vancouver for its “contempt towards people who pay their salary” and commented that its councillors “sometimes see more interested in scoring points.”

Joe Carangi: A former teacher and actor who decided to go to law school late in life and now works as a lawyer for people “who don’t have a voice,” he tells me. In a coffee we had last week, he emphasized his concern about the decline of the Downtown Eastside, the lack of city efforts in Chinatown revitalization, the explosion of laneway houses that have resulted in clear-cutting on the west side, and his desire to bring Mike Harris-style common sense back to city hall. (In spite of that, he’s not a Conservative, he says. In fact, he first worked with the NPA on Peter Ladner’s campaign.) He’s also upset about the city’s decision to extend parking to 10 p.m. and remove free parking around English Bay. He lives around Hastings and Nanaimo.

Ken Charko: The owner of the Dunbar Theatre and of an investment-counselling firm, Ken is really focusing on financial issues. In a chat with me, he said his focus is going to be on how to get the city budget under control. He said he wants to see a zero per cent tax increase next year, followed by tax increases no higher than the cost of living. When I asked how he’s going to do that, given that previously negotiated salary increases of four per cent are going to wreak havoc on next year’s budget, he said he was sure there were efficiencies that could be found. As the owner of a small theatre that doesn’t benefit from economies of scale, he’s learned how to reduce costs and compete against the big chains. He’ll use that knowledge to tackle the city budget. He also said he’s particularly concerned about the way Mayor Gregor Robertson has “been putting people in senior positions who are ideologically bent” and he’d want to address that.

Mike Klassen: Needs no introduction, after his tour of duty at He didn’t say much in his speech, except to mention that he’s been working with the NPA for 10 years, since he helped out with Peter Ladner’s campaign, and that the campaign is going to be very exciting, with a strong team. He grew up in Killarney and lives now near Mountainview Cemetery.

Jason Lamarche: Jason, who was working with the federal Liberals during the recent rout, er, campaign, also emphasized the themes of common sense and the need for affordability. He said Vision’s major accomplishments have been bike lanes and chicken coops. (Something tells me we’re going to be hearing this a lot.) He criticized homelessness efforts, saying in spite of all the talk, youth homelessness has been rising — a sign that he studied the statistics more carefully than most.

Francis Wong: Francis told the group he’s originally from Toronto, and that in his four years in Vancouver, it has become the most unaffordable city. He believes the NPA is the only party that can make the city sustainable. I understand his mother, who is a manager at a Chinatown bank, is well-known in the local Chinese community.

Bill Yuen: Bill, who used to be on the Vancouver school board and has been a dedicated Liberal organizer in his southeast corner of Vancouver, didn’t actually criticize anything. He emphasized that the NPA has a a lot of “positive media coverage” in recent weeks, and that it is well-positioned to win the next council, park board and school board.

Bill McCreery: Bill, who lives in a condo on the Burrard Slopes, was acclaimed last November, and his resume and positions on many issues are well known to anyone who reads this blog. Bill particularly emphasized the “unwanted spot rezonings” that Vision has brought to the city and the waste of money at the Olympic village.

I know there are some holes in what I have here and I’m sure I’ve abbreviated some items that various candidates think is important. Feel free to make your own additions. If anyone feels compelled to say really nasty stuff, please include your real name so that we can assess your comments (and performance in the arena of life) accordingly.

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