READ UP ON CANDIDATES
Forgive Vancouver voters overwhelmed by the number of choices on the ballot for the Oct. 20 city council election. The 21 mayoral and 71 council candidates range from a long list of independents to representatives of 10 electoral organizations. And scores more are running for school and parks boards.
The list includes, on the political left, prominent independents for mayor such as Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester, and right-leaning mayoral hopefuls such as Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association and Hector Bremner of upstart YES Vancouver.
The patchwork nature of the ballot — no organization is fielding a full slate of candidates — increases the possibility that a mayor could be elected without a majority of like-minded councillors.
This would be a disaster.
Consider what happened in Surrey in the mid-1990s when left-leaning Surrey Mayor Bob Bose presided over a right-leaning council majority.
Acrimony was so severe inside Surrey city hall that the mayor tried twice within a month to forcibly remove a council member from chambers, calling in a security guard and then the RCMP. The city’s reputation and ability to function was greatly impaired.
It is critical for Vancouver voters to take the time to educate themselves on where independent candidates and civic organizations stand on key policy issues, particularly land-use and property taxation. Local government exerts tremendous influence in these two areas.
Identify a team of 11 — a mayor and 10 councillors — that best represents your views on how the city should operate and mark your ballots accordingly.
There is no guarantee that the acrimony that befell Surrey can be avoided, but there is a better chance of electing a functional council if enough voters adopt this approach.
To assist in these deliberations, The Vancouver Sun prepared a concise summary of the positions of significant mayoral candidates and electoral organizations on eight topics. You can find the summary in today’s newspaper on page 12 and 13 and online at vancouversun.com.