October 11, 2018

#VanElxn2018: Price Tags Editor Slate — Colin

Price Tags editors Ken Ohrn and Colin Stein are sharing their personal slates and selection rationales. See Ken’s here.

All things being equal, my Vancouver election slate won’t influence too many Price Tags readers; if you’re an urbanism pleasure-reader and vote in this city, you’ve likely already taken the time to inform yourself sufficiently.

Instead, you may be curious to know what a slate says about voting considerations of one particular demographic.

In my case, a well-represented demographic — white, Gen-X cis male, single family home-owner, with one spouse and two children. I may be among the last of a generation to be able to uncritically maintain this persona and lifestyle while simultaneously having the opportunity to participate in a social change movement that is predominantly about changing the very power dynamics that enabled my unconscious empowerment in the first place.

In trying to make the right choices, let alone explain them, I first had to recognize and acknowledge that my position, and all the power, rights and privileges it gives me, has come at a cost to others in society — almost directly traceable to the decisions of people who look, and live, just like me. To think otherwise, I believe, would be self-serving and irresponsible.

This imbalance is driven by history, but still framed by present-day policies, and this political imbalance must be corrected. The only way to do this is to use some of my power to give more to others, to not only use my vote wisely, but to telegraph these choices to those around me. So perhaps my choices may still influence you, but if not, at least you’ll know a bit more about the change some of my demographic slice fully support.

Who should receive a greater share of power? Even when dismantling systems of power, awarding authority and governance roles to those without some sort of prior experience is problematic. I want to be governed by those with prior experience in civic leadership, policy development, or advocacy. My hope, naive perhaps, was that there would be a pool of worthy candidates to credibly lead, while also accounting for the required intersectional diversity.

(You can read more about the latter topic from Taq Bhandal in her Price Tags candidate interview, and the ‘Beyond Housing‘ candidate survey conducted by Megan Lau and Ian Bushfield. Thanks to them, Patrick Meehan, and HUB Cycling for influencing some of my picks.)

Ultimately, I didn’t have to work that hard to find representational diversity amongst the most credible of candidates — a true snapshot of Vancouver, staring at me from the ballot. Yes, intersectional representation was a factor in my final choices, but I was not led only by it. I recognize — and regret — there are no women of colour on my Council picks, but they are represented on my Park and School Board lists; my Council list is accidentally a ‘traditional’ 50:50 gender split, whereas men dominate Park Board, and women rule School Board.

So, while using intersectional considerations as a check and balance, and allowing for some representational unevenness, I was able to maintain a focus on my other considerations — skills, experience, and the following factors:

  • Independence: I’m not naive enough to believe that candidates outside Vancouver’s party system will have an easy time pulling in 60,000 votes. Yet, this year it seems there are some with enough public profile and appeal to have credible chances. My research (websites, debates, podcasts) led me to a few indie picks, who could serve as foils for the partisan voting blocks that may arise —and need to be challenged — in the next next council.
  • Legacy vs Emerging Parties: At first, I was hesitant to support parties seemingly on life support, or as yet largely untested. But experienced, well-spoken and policy-forward candidates are running for parties from many ‘generations’ — COPE, Green, Vision Vancouver, OneCity and, to a lesser degree, Yes Vancouver.
  • Policy over Populism: Any party engaging primarily in divisive rhetoric to pull in votes is a populist party, and if you’re running under the party banner, then you’re part of the problem. Discuss policy without attacking the people. Use empirical data. Try to form relationships with all communities. Make reasoned analysis and forecasts, and plan for an imagined future city that is more populous and diverse. It’s hard and it’s complex, and if you can’t do any of that, you’re a populist and I can’t vote for you. Some of their candidates earned my respect and honourable mention, but otherwise…goodbye NPA, Vancouver 1st, ProVancouver, and Coalition Vancouver.
  • The Greens: I think and feel Green.I like Green federally and provincially. But at the municipal level, I’m alarmed by their positions on housing and transportation. I’ve explored their policy statements and documents, weighed into Twitter exchanges with them and other voters, and watched COuncil and Park Board meetings. From all this, I can’t support their incumbents, but I do want the party to remain at forefront of the political landscape; some of their candidates show good potential — if not to represent my values and beliefs, then to debate the issues from a place of good faith.
  • Strategic Voting: No. Because voting off a poll isn’t strategic, it’s tactical (and sometimes dead wrong). I may have spent decades ‘throwing away’ my Green votes provincially, but in 2017 my patience was rewarded; with proportional representation, it would get even better. Ultimately I won’t vote without my conscience, values and brain all in alignment. While I may not get the mayor I want, council majority is six votes; with 10 spots for 71 candidates, strategic voting is a moot point.

Here is my slate. Comments are welcomed.

5 – Shauna Sylvester

Honourable mentions: None — nobody else comes close in terms of leadership on councils, committees and Boards in the public and private sector, nor her experience with public policy. She’s run a campaign of engagement on the issues that stands head-and-shoulders above all others. Independent, clear-headed, collegial, and classy.

2 – Christine Boyle – OneCity
6 – Adrian Crook
7 – Pete Fry – Green
36 – Tanya Paz – Vision
43 – Wade Grant
45 – Jean Swanson – COPE
54 – Sarah Blyth
59 – Derrick O’Keefe – COPE
65 – Brandon Yan – OneCity
71 – Heather Deal – Vision

Honourable mentions: Taq Bhandal, Rebecca Bligh, Graham Cook, Catherine Evans, Rob McDowell, Raza Mirza, Elke Porter, Francoise Raunet, Anne Roberts, Erin Shum, Michael Wiebe, David HT Wong.

2 – Dave Demers – Green
18 – Shamim Shivji – Vision
22 – Mathew Kagis – Work Less Party
25 – Cameron Zubko – Vision
26 – Gwen Giesbrecht – COPE
27 – John Irwin – COPE
28 – Camil Dumont – Green

Honourable mentions: Greg Edgelow, Yogi Johl.

2 – Jennifer Reddy – OneCity
4 – Julian Prieto – Yes
7 – Carrie Bercic – OneCity
12 – Estrellita Gonzalez – Green
15 – Erica Jaaf – OneCity
26 – Allan Wong – Vision
30 – Diana Day – COPE
31 – Erin Arnold – Vision
32 – Morgane Oger

Honourable mentions: BK Barbara Anderson, Janet Fraser.

Green – 6
Vision Vancouver – 6
OneCity – 5
COPE – 5
Independents – 4
Work Less Party – 1
Yes Vancouver – 1

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