Poised to recapture Vancouver city hall, NPA set to open nomination for mayoral candidate

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      The Non-Partisan Association (NPA) is announcing shortly its selection process for a mayoral candidate in Vancouver.

      The move comes as the NPA has emerged as the party to beat in the October 2018 municipal election.

      Once considered the natural governing party of the city, the NPA lost to Vision Vancouver in 2008.

      After a decade Vision rule, which saw a worsening of the housing crisis and homelessness, voters seem to be ready for change.

      Vision itself is on a retreat. Mayor Gregor Robertson and three of his council allies, Andrea Reimer, Tim Stevenson, and Kerry Jang, are not running for new terms in the 2018 election.

      Gregory Baker is the new president of the NPA, and he explained why the party is starting early its nomination process.

      “We want to cast a wide net,” Baker told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Although the nomination process is set to begin soon, the actual vote to choose a mayoral candidate will happen in the spring.

      “Our goal is to provide a long runway between the announcement of our nomination contest and the meeting itself, in order to attract as many great candidates as possible,” Baker said.

      The NPA had previously set February 21, 2018 as the date for its nomination meeting.

      According to Baker, the nomination vote will likely happen in April.

      “February is simply too early to go through what will be a detailed and rigorous nomination process,” Baker said. “We want to get it right, and have the best candidate represent the new, revitalized NPA.”

      When asked, Baker said that the NPA will accept bids from those who are currently running for leader of the B.C. Liberal Party.

      B.C. Liberals are choosing a new leader on February 3, and among the six contenders, three are MLAs from Vancouver, namely Sam Sullivan, Michael Lee, and Andrew Wilkinson.

      “We welcome all qualified candidates, including former B.C. Liberal leadership candidates,” Baker said.

      According to Baker, a "dark horse" or a surprise candidate may also emerge.

      Baker is the son of Jonathan Baker, a former city councillor. An entrepreneur on the west side of the city, Baker became NPA president in December last year.

      Baker ran for council in 2014, garnering 55,721 votes. He placed a strong 12th in the race for 10 seats in council.

      The NPA won in the October 2017 by-election for a vacant seat in council as other parties split the vote.

      Following last year’s by-election, there has been talk about other parties collaborating to stop the NPA from retaking city hall, which Baker finds rather amusing.

      “We are flattered,” Baker said. “Our opponents clearly consider the NPA to be the party to beat, this after Vision and Gregor's [Robertson] 10 years of failed policies and broken promises.”