RJ Aquino has launched his bid as a candidate for city council with a newly formed municipal political party called OneCity.
Aquino, who ran in the last civic election as a candidate with the Coalition of Progressive Electors, was backed by other former COPE members including David Chudnovsky at a press conference outside Vancouver City Hall today (May 5).
“Vancouver is becoming two cities: a city for developers and the truly wealthy, and one where many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to keep calling Vancouver home,” Aquino said. “OneCity emerged from a growing concern for this divide.”
Aquino is so far the sole candidate running with the party. Chudnovsky, who is part of an organizing group of about 12 people, said the electoral organization is in discussion with “a number of people” as potential candidates for the November 2014 ballot.
He added the new group consists of former COPE members, in addition to people who have been members of other political parties, and others who have never been involved with any party.
Aquino said he wants to keep OneCity's election campaign positive.
“I want to make sure that when we address the issues, we address issues in a way that people respond to them positively, and that people understand that this isn’t about placing blame, although blame can be placed, but it really is about spreading a message that attracts people who haven’t been involved, who know that there’s something going wrong, but haven’t yet found the means to get involved,” he told reporters.
Attendees at the press conference included former COPE school trustee Al Blakey and former external chair Marcus Youssef.
“We all know that housing affordability in this city is at a crisis point, and we all know that we have to change the way that development is done in this city,” stated Youssef, who said he is not a member of OneCity. “But like denouncing others, just saying that is easy. Bringing people together, building trust, and hammering out agreement, that is truly hard.”
Aquino said some of the issues the party will focus on include childcare, improved public transit, and affordable housing.
Chudnovsky noted discussions about forming the new party have been taking place for about a year and a half, and have involved about 130 people.
The press conference took place a day after Vision Vancouver members endorsed all incumbents seeking reelection with the party this year. The electoral organization will run eight candidates for city council.
Green Party of Vancouver members also confirmed three candidates for city council at its annual general meeting on Sunday (May 4). Current city councillor Adriane Carr is seeking reelection, and will be joined on the ballot by Cleta Brown and Pete Fry.
Tracey Moir, who had previously announced her intention to seek a city council nomination with the Greens, has opted to continue in her role as chair of Oakridge Langara Area Residents group in the event that it decides to launch a legal challenge against the Oakridge Mall rezoning, she said in a news release.
The 2014 civic election takes places on November 15.