Robertson may throw hat into mayoral race
Gregor Robertson has not ruled out a run at the mayor's chair in 2008.
However, speaking via cellphone from a "signal friendly" location on Cortez Island, the Vancouver-Fairview NDP MLA told the Georgia Straight it is "too early" to confirm unequivocally that he will enter the race.
Last May, the Straight reported that one Vision Vancouver councillor, Tim Stevenson, spoke highly of Robertson as a possible mayoral candidate for the party. This month, former Vancouver Green party school trustee Andrea Reimer and Green party provincial leadership candidate Damian Kettlewell both told the Straight that they would support Robertson for mayor.
"It is flattering to have my name thrown into the mix," Robertson said. "I haven't made up my mind what I am going to do. I got into politics to serve my province and my city and will do that in a way that has the most impact. My sense to date has been that the B.C. government holds a lot of the cards, and that is why I am there trying to make change at that level."
In a phone interview, 2005 Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Jim Green said Robertson is someone his party "would welcome" in a 2008 run. Green, a COPE councillor from 2002 to 2005, lost to NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan by fewer than 4,000 votes.
"He [Robertson] is the kind of person we would welcome, I am sure," Green told the Straight. "He works in his constituency very hard; he brings up issues like Cambie Street and the Canada Line when other people are avoiding it like the plague. So I am quite impressed with what I see."
Green's Vision colleague, Coun. Tim Stevenson, echoed those thoughts in a May 4 interview with the Straight.
"I certainly find him quite appealing," Stevenson said. "If he was interested in running with Vision, I think that people would certainly like to talk to him about it. He does have a good record in business as well as politically."
Robertson attended the inaugural Vision AGM on October 16, 2006, and joined other Vancouver-based provincial NDP colleagues at the COPE annual dinner on July 5, prompting COPE park commissioner Spencer Herbert to call him a "bridge builder".
"I like the work he has done on rental housing and trying to push a moratorium on demolition," Herbert said by phone. "It's early days, and who knows what can happen? If COPE and Vision can figure out what they are doing, he very well could be a viable candidate."
On May 17, 2005, Robertson defeated favoured B.C. Liberal candidate Virginia Greene by 895 votes (13,009 to 12,114)–the narrowest winning margin of any Vancouver NDP MLA. Robertson concedes it was a "tough riding to win".
Robertson added that another issue on his mind is a review of provincial constituencies by a three-person B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission. Its preliminary report must be submitted to the legislature by Wednesday (August 15).
"What they do in Vancouver is obviously going to be something I eagerly await," Robertson said. "They've got to move tens of thousands of seats [people] out of [Vancouver-] Burrard. If they make Fairview an impossible seat for someone like me to win, then that will obviously affect what I do next."
Added Robertson: "The vacuum of leadership at city hall is the underlying cause of all the speculation and rumours. The mess at the civic level of having a mayor who is not fully engaged is quite debilitating for a city going through such intense growth and heading into unchartered territory with 2010."
Coun. Suzanne Anton told the Straight she has a different take on the mayoral race.
"I welcome all comers, and I am sure Sam Sullivan welcomes all comers," Anton, a first-term NPA councillor and former NPA park board commissioner, said by phone. "I believe Sam will prevail in the next election, so anybody coming into the race should be prepared for that disappointment."
Former two-term COPE councillor Tim Louis told the Straight the recent withdrawal of Fred Bass–another former COPE councillor–from the 2008 mayoral race is a "loss for Vancouver".
"He is, in my opinion, one of the most principled politicians I have ever met," Louis said of Bass.
When the Straight mentioned Robertson as a potential candidate, Louis deadpanned, "I haven't heard of him. Who is that?
"You certainly need municipal experience to be a mayoral candidate, in my opinion, and [COPE councillor] David Cadman would be such an individual," Louis added.