I am intrigued by the obvious prejudice—discrimination by very intelligent and caring people who I meet—while campaigning for political office. “Really you are running?” They say this with eyebrows raised.
I am talking about my bid for North Vancouver city council. I am a woman. Married. Mother of two grown, flown-the-coop kids. I have had a career and personal history of very successful ventures and community leadership. The problem, they say, is that my husband Bill Bell—a former long-term city councillor—is also running for council.
Other married couples have run and worked together effectively on council. Libby Davis and Bruce Eriksen for example. In Richmond, three Halsey-Brandts were elected to city council; Greg and his wife Evelina and his ex-wife Sue served together. Jack Layton and Olivia Chow served many terms together in Toronto.
I believe that my credentials and achievement should be judged on their own merit.
I began my career in recycling long before it became mainstream. As a volunteer and then the executive director of the Recycling Council of B.C., I tirelessly promoted the then radical thought of municipal recycling—the blue box system. Former Vancouver city councillor George Puil called me a “dragon lady” because quite frankly I can be a bit zealous with great ideas versus the status quo.
I was then elected to Burnaby school board and initiated many innovative environmental programs: the first schoolwide recycling system, procurement policies. I was given a medal from the Canadian government for my contribution to community. As school board chair, I worked tirelessly for multicultural communities and was presented with a prestigious award and diplomatic exchange in Korea from the Korean government.
The government of British Columbia recognized my common sense approach to environmental issues and appointed me hazardous waste reduction commissioner for the province. I was given international recognition for my new approaches to these problematic issues.
I met and married Bill Bell, a North Van city councillor, in North Van City. I moved to a small house on Grande Boulevard and we started to raise our family there. I ran and won a spot on North Vancouver school board. Topped the polls in the city.
Later when we located in Mexico for work, I initiated a legal nonprofit foundation for responsible charitable giving. We assisted many charities and helped create computer labs, a mammogram program, scholarships, a food program, a special education classroom—to name a few. The Canadian government appointed me a warden. A Mexican government publication named Bill and I the “real heroes of Mexico”.
So I throw my hat into the ring. Please judge me on my credentials not my marital status—just as you would any other candidate. My name is Dorothy Bell, and I want to be your city councillor from North Van City.