NPA board should have encouraged Ken Charko to run for mayor in an open nomination

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      Next week, the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association is expected to announce its mayoral candidate.

      But whomever the board chooses will have to overcome a compelling narrative being crafted by Vision Vancouver's marketing whizzes.

      The storyline goes like this: the NPA wants to run the city out of the living rooms of Shaughnessy on behalf of the richest one percenters in Vancouver.

      Two wealthy businessmen on the NPA board, Peter Armstrong and Rob Macdonald, want to hand-pick their mayoral candidate, so they invited a few people in for interviews.

      The choice is between former Vancouver Sun managing editor Kirk LaPointe and former park commissioner Ian Robertson, who used to be on Armstrong's payroll at Great Canadian Railtours. Both of them look good in a suit. And the NPA membership will have no say whatsoever in who is eventually chosen to lead their party.

      Pretty undemocratic, right?

      Set aside the fact that the Coalition of Progressive Electors chose its mayoral candidate, Larry Campbell, in 2002, or that Vision Vancouver chose Jim Green in 2005.

      Modern political parties aren't supposed to pick leaders in backrooms without the consent of the membership.

      And Vision will drive that point home from now until voting day on the third Saturday in November.

      Throw in another message that the incumbent, Vision's Gregor Robertson, is the only competitive mayoral candidate who's intent on protecting Vancouver's beaches from Big Oil and it's possible that this election is already over. The narrative has been cast in stone.

      The NPA could have chosen another path.

      It could have held an open nomination and encouraged one of its directors, businessman Ken Charko, to run for mayor.

      Why Charko?

      In many ways, the president of the Dunbar Theatre is the antithesis of Robertson, who comes across as a too polished and mealy-mouthed for many voters.

      Charko is blunt, honest, and doesn't look nearly as glossy as Robertson in a suit.

      In addition, Charko is not like those other politicians who take diplomacy to extreme levels.

      If the Dunbar Theatre president disagrees with something—such as the NPA's policy for selecting a mayoral candidate or the way the Hillcrest Community Centre Association is being managed—he'll speak his mind about it. 

      He's been active in the fight to save independent movie theatres in Vancouver as a board member of the Motion Picture Theatres Association of B.C.

      He also built the Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt chain, showing his mettle in business.

      Charko's an involved member of the community who has helped improve the city through his actions.

      Sometimes, he rocks the boat with out-of-the-box suggestions, such as when he called for seasonal grade-separated bike lanes from April 1 to September 30.

      He argued that this would ensure parking-meter revenue could continue flowing into the city in the winter.

      In the 2011 election, Charko came 14th with 45,372 votes. That's quite impressive for a candidate with a low media profile and who had never run for public office before.

      He also did very well on the city's West Side, which is the NPA heartland.

      Charko's populist approach would have had the potential to galvanize voters who are angry at Robertson, just as Rob Ford galvanized Torontonians fed up with the so-called "gravy train" under former Toronto mayor David Miller.

      Instead, the NPA board has decided pick a mayoral candidate in secret, leaving the party extremely vulnerable to the Vision spin doctors.


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      Save Vancouver

      Jun 14, 2014 at 11:22am

      "The storyline goes like this: the NPA wants to run the city out of the living rooms of Shaughnessy on behalf of the richest one percenters in Vancouver."

      As opposed to Vision who are running it out of the living rooms of Point Grey Road's richest one percenters? So glad we have a choice between Developer Party 1 and Developer Party 2 in Vancouver. One more reason to vote only for Green candidates.


      Jun 14, 2014 at 11:42am

      Seems like a great potential candidate for Mayor. Straight talking and not shy to stand up for what's right.

      Mark A

      Jun 14, 2014 at 3:59pm

      The NPA has a board of directors made up of a cross section of Vancouver citizens. Not are all from the West Side nor are they rich. They are concerned enough about the direction that the City is taking and instead of being armchair quarter backs, they chose to be involved.
      The NPA holds nominations and elections every year for those interested to sit on the Board and be involved in our great City.
      Charko and anyone else was given the opportunity to put their names forth to enter the process for any position in the upcoming November election.

      Straight from Vision Shills

      Jun 14, 2014 at 9:10pm

      This piece is hilarious! It reads like the fluff about Vision candidates, press releases from the taxpayer funded Vision propaganda team, but is about their opponents ostensibly missing a chance. The NPA has no chance of unseating Mayor Rennieor Mayor Solomon and if they had chosen Charko the Straight would have led a disapproving chorus about how he was out of touch being NPA & "westside." The sad reality is that diverse groups have popped up to harness anti-Vision sentiment and half of those have pledged fealty to Vision if they get a seat or are being supported by folks absolutely NOT tied to Vision donors to help splinter votes. It is a lot easier than having a namesake run for office and very effective.

      Fern Jeffries

      Jun 15, 2014 at 2:55pm

      When he ran for city council, Ken Charko misrepresented his involvement with the Crosstown Residents Association. That association has worked for community safety, parks, childcare, off leash dog areas, crosswalk safety. I have never known Ken Charko to have involved himself in any of these activities, either as a member of the Crosstown Residents Society, or as an individual.

      Concerned about Vancouver

      Jun 15, 2014 at 3:52pm

      Fern thank you for clearing up Mr Charko's non involvement in the Crosstown Residents Association.

      Mr Charko seems to be total bent on building up his profile as he runs for the Conseratives in 2015 in new riding of Granville or Quadra. He is on both those boards which seems strange.

      Did he even try to run in this years election for the NPA?

      Sadly for him he doesn't realize he is being played by the media.

      He does not seem to be a Maverick to me, he seems to me to be more like a self absorbed political fool.


      Jun 24, 2014 at 12:27pm

      If Charko is this great of a candidate, why doesn't he run as an independent? That's what our democracy is about. A party does have the right to hand-pick their candidate.