Pre-election, Mayor Sam Sullivan milks his underdog image
Mayor Sam Sullivan is again assuming the role that seems to have served him well in Vancouver civic politics: that of the underdog.
Amid repeated speculation about the mayoral prospects of fashionable B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor and well-groomed NDP Vancouver-Fairview MLA Gregor Robertson, the East Side–raised politician who overcame his quadriplegia doesn't want–publicly, that is–to be considered the candidate to beat in the 2008 election.
"I think I'm the underdog," Sullivan told the Georgia Straight with a broad smile during a brief interview at the sidelines of the December 12 Vancouver police board meeting.
To some extent, he's feigning disinterest about who his opponents may be for the civic election. "I've been in politics for 15 years, and there are always rumours and speculations about people," Sullivan said. "Over 90 percent of the time it never happens. So I tend not to pay attention to rumour until someone actually declares."
But he can also afford to either flatter or disrespect his potential challengers. Commenting on Taylor, who hasn't yet denied she wants to become Vancouver mayor, Sullivan gushed: "Oh, she's an excellent candidate."
In a Straight interview in October, the mayor had this to say about Robertson: "I'll be very interested if he is looking at civic politics, but I know he doesn't have a lot of experience at City Hall."
A prolific fundraiser, who said in the documentary Citizen Sam that he likes hanging around with the rich because they are people who get things done, Sullivan has kept his political opponents guessing how much personal campaign funds he has put away independent of his Non-Partisan Association.
Able to speak Cantonese, learning Punjabi, and speaking a smattering of Tagalog, the mayor also exerts significant appeal among voters in the city's major ethnic groups. Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie, who hasn't ruled out running for mayor himself, had one thing to say about Sullivan.
"We should never count Sam Sullivan out," Louie told the Straight . "He's a very astute politician who has been at the game for a long time."
Sullivan's underdog image is something his challengers will have to deal with. "He's played that [role] successfully a number of other times," Louie said. "But I think citizens will be much smarter this time. They've watched him underperform for two years now. He's more of an underperformer rather than an underdog."
According to Louie, Vision will definitely run a mayoral candidate next year, one who will be chosen by party members in an open nomination contest.
As to whether or not the door is open to Taylor, Louie said: "Carole Taylor needs to come forward with what she plans to do with our city, and that will help all of our citizens, including Vision Vancouver members, decide on where and how to put their resources."
Louie said he is very aware that former mayor and Vision Vancouver founding member Larry Campbell is strongly encouraging Taylor to run for mayor. Now a Liberal senator, Campbell also said a few years ago that Louie would become mayor someday.
"Larry, obviously, is a member of Vision Vancouver," Louie said. "In the end analysis, Larry Campbell is one vote amongst many members of Vision Vancouver who will vote on who to represent them in the next election."
Former COPE councillor Fred Bass cautions that the attention being lavished on the various political personalities is detracting from two things that he considers important.
"One is the [social] issues, and the other one is the basic undemocratic nature of political machines being required to become elected to council," Bass told the Straight . "I think what very few people realize is the extent to which a political machine has become necessary. So we have the various political machines and the various candidates engaged in a kind of dance about who runs where."
Dec 20, 2007 at 9:11am
Sam (The Unwise) Sullivan is the worst mayor in recent times. His patented "Vote for me because I am a cripple) is getting very tiresome. His Eco Density program is nothing more than giving the NPA's friends, the LAND DEVELOPERS massive increase in property values with up-zoning property for hugely dense and Eco unfriendly multi story high-rise condo development. (Just the note: The Europeans are doing the opposite)
Now he wants a Sky Train Millennium Line subway to UBC, the most expensive transit options.
The Vancouver taxpayer beware, Sam (the unwise) Sullivan, may just drive the middle class right out of Vancouver, which means an ever increasing tax burden on the poor. Sam's and the NPA policies is to make Vancouver a haven for the very wealthy, except for the East-side drug ghetto.