Chinatown leader Syrus Lee to run in Vancouver-Kensington with B.C. Liberals

In a conversation with the Straight in August 2008, prominent Vancouver Chinatown figure Syrus Lee mused about his political choices.

At that time, Lee was being eyed by the Non-Partisan Association as a possible council candidate in last year’s civic election.

Lee didn’t run, but he said then that he might go provincial in 2009, probably in the Vancouver-Kensington constituency. He also said that if he did so, he’d run with the B.C. Liberals.

Well, Lee has been acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Kensington, one of the most multicultural areas in the city, in this year’s provincial election.

“I think I can do more on the provincial level,” Lee said in a phone interview with the Straight on March 11.

A well known personality in the Chinese-Canadian community, Lee, a longtime realtor, was the charter president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association Society. He has been a director for the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association for the past 15 years.

The Vancouver-Kensington seat is currently held by NDP MLA David Chudnovsky, who isn’t running for a second term.

The NDP will hold its nomination meeting on March 22 at the John Oliver secondary school starting at 2:30 p.m.

Two women are running for the nomination: community activists Mable Elmore and Jinny Sims.

Elmore, whose mother was an immigrant from the Philippines, has worked on peace, immigrant, and other social issues for more than 20 years. A bus driver, she is a member of Local 111 of the Canadian Auto Workers and coordinated the union’s “More Buses Now” campaign. Elmore also sits on the Vancouver and District Labour Council executive.

Sims is a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. She is actually the successor of Chudnovsky, who also headed the BCTF. Sims led a teachers’ strike in 2005 to press for higher wages and smaller class sizes.