It’s still roughly six months until Vancouver’s 2018 election for mayor, city council, and park board, but candidates are beginning to enter the ring.
Today (April 16), self-made entrepreneur Ken Sim announced he’s going to ask the Non-Partisan Association’s members to nominate him as their candidate for mayor.
“I was born and raised in Vancouver, and those close to me know that I've always been deeply passionate about this city, its residents and the issues that impact us,” Sim said quoted in a media release “I grew up here and believe my four boys should have the opportunity to raise their families here also. I believe this generation, and future generations, should be able to afford to live in this city.”
That was a nod to Vancouver’s acute shortage of affordable housing.
“I am gravely concerned that countless Vancouverites have been forced to move to other cities for better opportunities,” Sim added. “This must change now.”
Other issues that Sim mentions in the release as areas on which he would focus if elected mayor include “bureaucratic red tape” and some of Vancouver’s most-persistent challenges concentrated in the Downtown Eastside.
“I've spent years supporting causes related to the Downtown Eastside and am disappointed with the lack of progress on issues related to mental health, addiction and homelessness—despite the fact significant money has been spent,” he said. “I believe it is time we bring real change to help our vulnerable sisters and brothers living in this city.”
Sim graduated from UBC’s Sauder School of Business and went on to establish two successful companies, Nurse Next Door, which provides home-care to seniors, and Rosemary Rocksalt, a bagel franchise.
He is 47 years old. With his wife, Teena, they have four children together.
Interviewed in 2012, Sim told the Straight that he believed the secret to the success of Nurse Next Door, which he and business partner John DeHart founded in 2011, was the company’s emphasis on quality of care over financial metrics such as profits.
“We focus on celebrating aging for the seniors and treating people like our moms and dads—and figuring out what they want to do in their lives, because they still have a lot of life left,” Sim said then.
In that interview, he revealed lessons learned from his mentor, notable financier and philanthropist Milton Wong, and recounted how he grew up without much money in Vancouver and was bullied for his Chinese heritage.
“I didn’t want a lot to do with my Chinese heritage,” Sim said. “I wanted to be like everyone else. I resisted, to my regret now, learning Cantonese and Mandarin.”
Sim’s bid for the NPA’s mayoral nomination is in response to an open call for expressions of interest that the party issued last January. NPA president Gregory Baker made the announcement with a note of encouragement for people from different backgrounds to seek the position.
“We’re making every effort to improve diversity in our candidate selection by reaching out to a wider group of Vancouver residents,” Baker said. “We want to get it right and have the best candidate represent a new, revitalized NPA."
The NPA currently holds four seats on Vancouver city council. Those are occupied by George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, Melissa De Genova, and Hector Bremner, who took office in a by-election held last October.
Bremner announced he was seeking the NPA’s nomination for mayor on February 19.
On March 21, Vancouver parks commissioner John Coupar became the second candidate to throw his hat in the NPA's ring. The president of Novex Delivery Solutions made the announcement at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, where Affleck, a long-time friend, was on hand to support him.
Affleck had previously said that he would not run for re-election in 2018. De Genova has said that she will seek another term on council. On February 1, Ball told the Straight that she would support Bremner.
In the 2014 Vancouver election, the NPA was represented by former Vancouver Sun managing editor Kirk LaPointe. He captured 40 percent of the vote to incumbent-mayor Gregor Robertson’s 46 percent.
Vancouver’s 2018 civic election is scheduled for October 20.