In the last Civic Savvy, we profiled New West Councillor Patrick Johnstone – one of the relatively few Gen X leaders in the region, and maybe one of the few in the future. As the Boomers depart, it’s argued, the Millenniums will arrive to fill their vacant council chairs, jumping over the Gen Xers in between.
But that in-between generation will be needed, especially those familiar with our institutions and issues at a time of disruption and identity politics. Every aspiring candidate seems to call for ‘change at City Hall’, without ever really explaining, or maybe even knowing, what that would mean. Newcomers will need the perspective and memory of those who have been involved in actual governance and local process.
Tanya Paz might be one of those people. At 48, she’s numerically a Gen Xer, but more than that, her background gives her a worldview that covers a lot of world.
A third-generation Vancouverite, in a family with roots in Scotland, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Jerusalem. Half brown, half white. Raised in rural Aldergrove, lived in urban Vancouver, educated for a time in Japan and France. Cis-female, attracted to all genders. Experienced confused racism against South Asians and Jews. Stereotyped as a ‘cycling advocate’ but with nine years on the Board of Trade Regional Transportation & Infrastructure Committee – knowledge of air and freight issues, professional experience in mobility sharing, political involvement in active transportation.
I’ve watched her in action. Her ‘in-betweeness’ gives her an ability to put forward contentious positions (saying to bicycling advocates, for instance: my highest priority is pedestrians) without pissing people off to the point where they turn off.
So fine. Does any of that matter when the toughest label she has to deal with is ‘Vision Vancouver’? And it’s her first time.
Three factors might get her into the top ten, assuming they’re real: a still-effective Vision machine (especially those voter identification lists), identity and respect in enough interest groups to pull in premium votes above the base, and a desire among the electorate to have more youthful voices, on one hand, but earned experience on the other.
Someone in between.