This is an election like no other. While “unprecedented” is an overused word, it seems true for this campaign more than any other since the late 1930s:
- Only three incumbents from the previous council.
- More new parties than most of us can distinguish.
- Credible independents, with a receptive electorate.
- Campaign finance rules that, with some breaking of their intentions, changed the way the game is played.
- A tumbled ballot.
Throw in a low turnout, split voting on left and right, along with a shift to densifying neighbourhoods and a decline of voters in aging communities (thanks, Andy Yan, for that data), and you have an outcome that no one can credibly predict.
I thought for awhile that this may be an election which changes the direction of Vancouver in a way that happened in 1972 when the NPA lost to TEAM. That marked the end (and beginning) of an era. But my sense now is, maybe not. While there will be some momentous decisions to come, particularly with respect to neighbourhoods that haven’t seen much change in generations, the City will continue on as it has, with Council adhering to the foundational assumptions which all previous councils, regardless of ideology, have held:
- Large and continued investments in basic infrastructure and maintenance.
- Reliable emergency services.
- Gradual but not dramatic increases in property taxes, still heavily weighted to the advantage of residential over business.
- Ongoing commitment to local-area planning – but in the context of a city-wide strategy.
- Opportunistic levering of senior-government funding, especially for housing and transit.
- Continued immigration but less concentrated ethnicity.
- Disproportionate support for arts, culture and social services, providing regional-scale programs, supports and institutions.
Because we’re a rich city, we can do all that and not have much political division on the basics. Our politics may seem extreme (and shifted to the left), but in fact we have the luxury of debating and dividing over social issues and relatively trivial interventions (bike lanes!) that keep Vancouver’s reputation for leadership and controversy intact.
After attending numerous candidates’ forums (at least for mayor and council), I’m impressed by the overall level of competence and concern among those running. These are mostly good, sane people running for office, who care sometimes passionately, but seem capable of getting along with others. While there are certainly characters and outliers, we’re going to be in good hands.
So who am I going to vote for? I was avoiding a commitment, ostensibly maintaining an ‘objective’ persona for purposes of commentary. But who am I kidding? Already in this space I have profiled candidates I think worthy of office, and have been reported on the donation I made to a mayoral candidate (thanks, Charlie Smith).So here are some of the people I think would serve us well. Read more »