Planta's picks as Vancouver votes
BY JOSEPH PLANTA
Friday, 18 November 2005
VANCOUVER - It's election day this Saturday. Voters are asked to mark their ballots for a mayor, ten councillors, seven parks commissioners, and nine school trustees. Civic elections are notorious for low voter turnout and high voter apathy. They say that low interest signals some level of satisfaction, and so thus the lacklustre turnout.
I've paid a little bit of attention to the campaign, but granted not nearly enough. Admittedly, it doesn't bother me a great deal what they do with the Burrard Bridge and whether Vancouver is a no-fun city or not. Whatever any of the candidates say about increasing or keeping policing levels at the same rate, frankly doesn't matter, because whatever a government does, it's never really enough.
So with a bit of weariness, I head off to the precinct to make my choices. It's really making sure I narrow my selections down to the maximum votes I am able to cast, as well as making sure I pick enough. It's a mix of who I think actually already does a good job, as well as who I think deserves a chance to serve in political office, with a dash of who exactly can do the least amount of harm if we let them grasp the reins of power. Then there's the arrogance factor. Most people abhor arrogant pols, so obviously those who campaign thinking the voters are stupid not to reward them with a vote, don't get props from me.
For mayor, it's always been between Vision Vancouver's Jim Green and the NPA's Sam Sullivan. I think both have been first-rate councillors, putting in many hours in the last term. Both are able men, but neither man makes me want to go to the poll for them with much excitement. I could vote for either man, and it's not because they're both particularly outstanding, but because there are aspects to each candidate that don't rub me the right way.
Green is often glib when dismissing those that disagree with him. He's dismissive in debate rather than constructive. At first the idea that Vision Vancouver is not a party with a constitution and a board, doesn't strike me as democratic. Its candidates were selected rather than nominated. It's a tad offensive frankly, to ask the electorate to sign off on your choices rather than have them democratically nominated. Then again, independents do the same when they decide to run. So, I'm willing to cut Green a little slack.
Sullivan has always struck me as a thoughtful politician, thinking about big ideas as much as rudimentary council-type problems like zoning and the sort. The idea that he gave money to drug addicts to help them with their habit/disease, doesn't strike me as particularly noble, but who amongst us hasn't enabled the bad habits of others, let alone ourselves. Not that all of us fund drug use. That said, I think his work for peoples with disabilities is admirable. However, he doesn't strike me as particularly visionary. While Green wants to stay the course with keeping a good thing going, Sullivan seems to want to step back. Anything progressive that he wants to initiate seems borne from the last council's efforts.
In terms of images, Sullivan is youthful and smiling in his ads, while Green looks a tad surly. Sure, civic politics is thankless and arduous, but at least appear like you're excited to take on the task of elected office, and don't appear as if it's a burden to even try. That's why George Chow doesn't strike me as particularly appealing. He seems grumpy and burdened to having to pose for those group photos with his fellow Vision Vancouver candidates. Sure, it's an unfair assessment, but for the most part people only have insert ads to go on, so in that case the image counts.
Sullivan's political leaning to the conservative side of things seems most appealing to me. Green's on the left, but he seems very comfortable now that business and development is backing him. I suppose I'll be voting for the under dog, and Sam Sullivan for mayor, if only that at this stage in the game it's inevitable that Jim Green will win.
For City Council, with ten selections to be made, I wondered if I was going to need all ten, and sure enough, I had a list exceeding ten. Whittling down to ten was not an easy task, but I managed to, and I'll be marking my ballot for:
Suzanne Anton, NPA
Fred Bass, COPE
David Cadman, COPE
Jamie Lee Hamilton, no affiliation
Colleen Hardwick Nystedt, NPA
Peter Ladner, NPA
Raymond Louie, Vision Vancouver
Patrick Maliha, NPA
Kevin Potvin, no affiliation
Anne Roberts, COPE.
The diversity in the ranks of the NPA candidates is remarkable in that a majority are women, all successful with a different array of experience. I voted for Peter Ladner, because I think he's been a thoughtful member of council, one who I think has much to offer in a future term. It's been said he could be a mayoralty candidate in the future, and I have no doubt that he will. It was particularly refreshing when he stepped aside from running for the mayoralty this time around when he said he simply didn't have enough political experience. Raymond Louie too has been touted as a future mayoralty candidate, and I think he too has been a thoughtful member of council, one who makes good points in debate, and who adds diversity to council especially since he's probably a generation younger than his colleagues.
Fred Bass, I've always liked. I was standing under some awning one cold and wet afternoon during the 2002 campaign, when Dr. Bass, in a quiet, unassuming manner came up to offer a pamphlet and ask if I would consider voting for him and his colleagues. I'm a sucker for humility, and was quite impressed when he appeared genuinely thankful when I said I knew of him, and would definitely think of voting for him. Even though he's a bit more left-wing than me, and despite his vociferous, if not annoying anti-smoking efforts in the past, I voted for him then, and will again this time around. The same with David Cadman. I was at an opening once, which he also attended, and unlike most other politicians who would soak in the attention of others, he spent most of the intermission, not seeking hands to shake or backs to pat, but admiring the art in the lobby. I thought that was neat, considering how offensive it is to have politicians show up at public events to do nothing but politick.
Jamie Lee Hamilton is flamboyant a hell and a rabble rouser in her own regard. Controversy seems to follow Jamie Lee, but I think she could make a positive contribution to council, and deserves some credit for trying as an independent. Ditto for Kevin Potvin. Both he and Hamilton have often divergent views on things with each other, least of all me, however, I think it's time good thoughtful independents need to be elected. Potvin and Hamilton are two deserving of support this Saturday.
Between Suzanne Anton, Colleen Hardwick Nystedt and Patrick Maliha, I only know of Maliha as one-half of the movie-reviewing duo, The Movie Guys on Shaw's Urban Rush. Anton is a former parks commissioner and would make a good addition to council, while Nystedt, a film producer, and Maliha, a comedian, would bring a good perspective to council thanks to their respective backgrounds. Nystedt knows the film and television industry in this market well, and that would doubtless serve council well, and Maliha, would not only bring a sense of humour to Cambie and 12th, but also a perspective that's needed in council, considering he's not a traditional politician.
And I'm voting for Anne Roberts because she's from my neighbourhood. I think she's an able advocate and representative. Maybe she should lighten up on Wal Mart, but somebody's gotta hold their feet to the fire, and good on her for doing so. And, if I ever find myself in front of a Wal Mart, unlike her, I'd still go in and shop.
As for the other candidates I'll be voting for, they are:
Parks Board: Allan DeGenova, NPA; Spencer Herbert, COPE; Mel Lehan, COPE; Ian Robertson, NPA; Anita Romaniuk, COPE; Loretta Woodcock, COPE; and Marty Zlotnik, NPA.
School Board: Rucku Bhandal, NPA; Allen Blakey, COPE; Ken Denike, NPA; Carol Gibson, NPA; Noel Herron, COPE; Don Lee, NPA; Kevin Millsip, COPE; Andrea Reimer, Green Party of Vancouver; and Allan Wong, COPE.
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