This week, I gasped with incredulity when I heard that Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer is considering a run for mayor.
She told the Vancouver Courier via an email that she's mulling over the idea after Vision's standard-bearer, Ian Campbell, pulled out of the race.
No doubt, she's concerned that Vision's slate of five council candidates could be obliterated if there isn't someone with a high public profile at the top of the ticket.
And Reimer can take pride in many accomplishments during her 10-year tenure on council, including radically improving the modal split between pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and those who rely on motor vehicles to reach their destinations.
She and her Vision colleagues finally have the funding in place for their cherished Broadway subway, albeit only to Arbutus Street. And thanks to her efforts, Vancouver has become the leading city in Canada when it comes to reconciliation with First Nations.
Reimer has also been a standout on council in making new Canadians feel welcome in Vancouver. She's helped the city make enormous strides in becoming more resilient to climate change.
But why on Earth would she want to divide the voting pie to prevent someone who shares her deepest values from becoming mayor?
There are already two extremely qualified progressive candidates for mayor, each with stellar records on climate change and a deep understanding of public policy.
Independents Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester are both job-ready. They may be the most job-ready, green-minded progressive mayoral candidates in Vancouver since David Cadman ran in 1999.
Stewart has spent much of his adult life studying civic governance on his way to becoming a professor of public policy at SFU. He immersed himself in the Kinder Morgan pipeline issue as the NDP MP for Burnaby South.
Moreover, Stewart was a cofounder of Think City, Vancouver's only public-policy outfit devoted to municipal issues. He has seven years' elected experience. He's been a candidate in three federal campaigns.
He's infinitely more qualified than Gregor Robertson was when he sought the mayoralty of Vancouver and foolishly promised to end street homelessness by 2015. Stewart has enough experience not to make promises that he can't keep.
Then there's Sylvester, a masterful networker, terrific listener, and someone who's served on the board of Vancouver's two most important cooperatives: Vancity and MEC.
She's also a professor at SFU where she's been director of the Centre for Dialogue and executive director of SFU Public Square. She can reach across partisan lines for solutions while remaining true to her values.
Her depth around public issues has been reflected in her policy pronouncements during the campaign.
If there's any candidate in the race who knows how to blunt the long-term challenge of the Trumpian populist right, it's Sylvester. Nobody in this race has given more thought to this issue than her.
It's not by playing the uber partisan politics that Reimer has specialized in over the past decade at city hall. Reimer has been queen of the strike-and-replace motions to deny any credit to her opponents.
The us-and-them games played by Vision, whether they were against the NPA or COPE or the Greens, have contributed mightily to the party's current problems.
If Reimer decides to run for mayor, I'm betting she would lose badly, mainly because the words "Vision Vancouver" would appear after her name.
Vision got a taste for the public's mood in the last council by-election, when its candidate didn't win a single poll across the entire city. He came fifth. Let that sink in: fifth.
Reimer could become a good mayor in the future.
But for now, the public is eager to put Vision in the penalty box, just as they were with the NPA in 2002 and the B.C. Liberals in 2017.
Change brings renewal and new approaches.
Had there not been two exceptionally qualified progressive candidates running for mayor, I might not be writing this column.
This year, Vancouverites can consider themselves fortunate in that two people who care passionately about the city and who understand the nature of climate change have put their names forward. Each could have chosen the easier route of teaching at SFU and living out their lives in comfort.
They know that Yes Vancouver's Hector Bremner, in particular, is an extremely challenging opponent. He's the most polished centre-right retail politician to emerge in Vancouver in a generation.
Should Bremner win, Reimer can come back in four years and try to make mincemeat of him at that time if he hasn't "fixed" housing, like he's promised to do.
On the far right, there's a long shot risk of a Trumpian Wai Young pulling off an upset, which would lead to unimaginable chaos. And the NPA has fared exceptionally well in Vancouver politics in the 1990s when the NDP was ruling the province, so Sim can't be ruled out, either.
Reimer has an opportunity to be a mentor and adviser to the next progressive mayor, either Stewart or Sylvester, and continue shaping city policies for years to come. Or she can return in four years and slay Bremner, Sim, or Young should any of them emerge victorious.
But neither of these options will be available to Reimer should she run for mayor this year. It's truly time to give this idea—and her political career—a rest.More