Affordable-housing advocate Jean Swanson announces she's running for Vancouver city council

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      Respected activist Jean Swanson has announced she is running for a city council seat in a by-election tentatively scheduled for October 14.

      Swanson is scheduled to appear at a press conference at 10 a.m. this morning (August 31) to make the news official. According to a media release, she’ll run as an independent.

      For decades, Swanson has focused on affordable housing, renters’ rights, and improved conditions for the homeless, especially in the Downtown Eastside. In 2016, Ottawa recognized her work and awarded her the country’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada.

      “Vancouver needs a political revolution,” reads Swanson’s first campaign media release. “Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver has increased by 20 percent to over $2,000/month in the past year alone. The homeless count has soared to a historic high of 2,138. Taxes on the rich have plummeted, crippling our ability to solve our crisis of inequality. This crisis has been caused by 40 years of harmful policies that Swanson has fought against every day.”

      Swanson is the second candidate to confirm they’re running for a city council seat that was vacated by Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs last month. (Meggs recently took a position with the provincial government as incoming premier John Horgan’s chief of staff.)

      The first was Judy Graves, the only other Vancouver citizen whose advocacy work for the homeless and low-income housing matches that of Swanson’s. From 2010 to 2013, Graves was employed by the City of Vancouver as its official advocate for the homeless. Before that, she worked as its tenant-assistance coordinator.

      Long-time homeless advocate Judy Graves announced she was running for Vancouver city council on July 12.

      Graves announced she was running for the seat on July 12. She’s aligned herself with OneCity, a relatively new political party that unsuccessfully fielded one candidate for council in 2014.

      Former Vision Vancouver school trustee Patti Bacchus and former Green party council candidate Pete Fry's names have also been mentioned in connection with the race. Meanwhile, the Coalition of Progressive Electors has scheduled a nomination meeting for August 29.

      In the weeks preceding today’s announcement, Swanson was encouraged to run for office by a grassroots campaign that attracted attention on Facebook and Twitter. Swanson previously ran for mayor of Vancouver in 1988. She was defeated by Gordon Campbell, who went on to become B.C. premier.

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