Former NPA council candidate Rob McDowell will run as an independent this year

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      In the 2014 election, Rob McDowell was an NPA council candidate who could appeal to progressive voters.

      A former diplomat, he had previously helped establish HIV clinics across Vietnam. He was an ardent supporter of the arts. And he conducted himself with a great deal of civility on the campaign trail.

      McDowell impressed his opponents so much that was appointed to the LGBTQ advisory committee, which has had a tremendous impact on city policies.

      So he seemed like a shoo-in to become an NPA council candidate in this election.

      This is especially so given the void that will be created on council when city council's champion of LGBT rights, Tim Stevenson, retires in October.

      It's also very possible that the NPA's leading proponent for LGBT rights and its most knowledgeable arts advocate, Coun. Elizabeth Ball, might not seek reelection.

      If McDowell were to be elected, he could have been expected to be the NPA's next standard bearer in these two areas.

      But rather than run with the NPA, McDowell has announced on Twitter tonight that he's seeking a seat on council as an independent.

      McDowell's declaration came on the same day that the NPA candidate screening committee was scheduled to complete its work.

      The NPA previously announced that incumbent councilllor Melissa De Genova will seek reelection.

      Park commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung has also been given a council nomination with the NPA. Her husband is an NPA boad member.

      NPA president Gregory Baker said last week that the full slate will be in place no later than August 15.

      The candidate screening committee's work will be reviewed by the NPA nomination committee, with a report going to the board by August 10.

      Earlier this year, the NPA board vetoed two mayoral-nomination aspirants. One of them, Coun. Hector Bremner, is running for mayor with a new party called Yes Vancouver.

      So far, there's been no announcement that the NPA will hold an open nomination meeting for its council candidates.

      Vision Vancouver's council, park, and school board candidates, on the other hand, were chosen by party members in a public venue. One spot was saved for incumbent councillor Heather Deal.

      NPA park commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung was given a council nomination by her party, unlike Vision Vancouver's Catherine Evans and the Greens' Michael Wiebe, who had to win council nods in contested races. Kirby-Yung's husband is on the NPA board.

      The Greens also held an open nomination meeting, not saving any spots on the council slate for incumbents. Two-termer Adriane Carr had to be renominated. 

      OneCity Vancouver and COPE also held open nomination meetings.

      Yes Vancouver is the only party that hasn't held a contested nomination meeting for its council far. It insists its candidates were "acclaimed".

      If mayoral candidate Ken Sim is heading a slate chosen in the NPA's backrooms, it will make it difficult for the party to claim with any legitimacy that it's going to bring more transparency to Vancouver City Hall.

      After all, if the NPA can't do this when it's choosing its own candidates, how can it be trusted to make this a priority when running a civic government?