Jean Swanson may not be running for mayor of Vancouver, but she should have a place in debates among candidates for the top job in the city.
That’s according to Rider Cooey, cochair of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), the party with which the celebrated antipoverty crusader is running for council in this year’s October 20 civic election.
“It would be best for Vancouver voters to have a chance to consider Jean Swanson’s responses in any mayoral debates that are scheduled,” Cooey told the Straight in a September 11 phone interview.
According to Cooey, the inclusion in public forums featuring mayoral contenders of a candidate not running for mayor has been done in the past.
"There is precedent for that sort of thing," he said.
The COPE cochair cited as example the panel discussion organized by the Urban Development Institute (UDI) in the lead-up to the last election. The October 7, 2014, event included Green council candidate Adriane Carr, who joined then mayoral aspirants Meena Wong of COPE and Kirk LaPointe of the Non-Partisan Association. Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vision Vancouver did not attend.
The UDI forum was followed two days later with a forum (run by the Metro Vancouver Alliance) wherein Carr was also present alongside mayoral candidates Robertson, LaPointe, and Wong.
According to Cooey, Swanson’s participation in the mayoral debates would advance concrete solutions to the pressing issues in the city, particularly housing.
“It would raise the discussion about housing out of the muck of platitudes and generalities and put some meat on the bones, if I may use a metaphor, put some substance, inject some substance into those discussions, some sorely needed substance beyond the anodyne boilerplate that tends to come from politicians,” Cooey said.
Among the policies being promoted by Swanson and COPE is a four-year rent freeze. They also want to tax luxury homes to raise funds to build public housing. Their platform likewise includes working toward free transit, starting with children and people with incomes below $50,000 a year.
In the interview, Cooey also said that it’s possible COPE will not endorse either of the two independent candidates for mayor: namely, Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester.
“We think that we have such a strong threesome of candidates for council,” Cooey said, referring to Swanson, Anne Roberts, and Derrick O’Keefe.