Normally, municipal by-elections for council seats are not a big deal, especially when one party will retain power regardless of the outcome.
But the resignation of Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs creates some intriguing possibilities.
City clerk Janice MacKenzie has confirmed that there will be a by-election. Expect four civic parties—Vision Vancouver, the NPA, the Vancouver Greens, and the Coalition of Progressive Electors—to field candidates.
The outcome could have a big impact on the 2018 campaign.
Let's say the NPA runs a high-profile candidate like former attorney general Suzanne Anton. She's a favourite of many in the party. But were she to lose badly, it would harm the chances of the NPA picking up traction—and donations—in advance of the next election in 2018.
An NPA loss may confirm the party's status as Vancouver's equivalent of the provincial Socreds: out of touch with a damaged brand.
Vision Vancouver is desperately in need of younger politicians after its next-gen candidates were defeated in 2014. But should the party run someone younger—such as Vision Vancouver executive director Stepan Vdovine or mayoral assistant Naveen Girn—and that person were to lose, it would leave the ruling gang looking pretty stale going into the next campaign.
The Greens could be the big winner if they run someone who wins. In the last election, their council vote split between Pete Fry and Cleta Brown, leaving them with just one making it into the top 10: Adriane Carr. This time, the party has an excellent chance of getting a second member elected to the chamber.
That, in turn, would boost momentum going toward the 2018 election.
COPE has been in shambles for a few years, so it would be a miracle if it won a by-election. But you never know what might happen, given the rising anti-elitism and overall frustration about high housing prices. A strong candidate like Lisa Barrett could pull off an upset in a four-way race.
I'm going to go out on a limb today and make a prediction that Vancouver's next councillor will be...Pete Fry. But I'll add this: I won't be terribly surprised if I'm wrong, given the number of people who will be vying for the seat.
Keep an eye on this one. It's going to be fun.