Vancouver is six weeks away from a by-election that was called to fill a vacant council seat. A number of parties have declared candidates but the city’s big two are not among them.
The opposition Non-Partisan Association (NPA) is scheduled to hold a nomination meeting on September 6. Three members are competing for the council spot. Hector Bremner works in public affairs and previously served as an executive assistant to former deputy premier Rich Coleman. Glen Chernen is a financial analyst who has run for office unsuccessfully with the Cedar Party. And Penny Noble is a former school board trustee who has also worked as a teacher.
The NPA has not identified who is seeking nominations for the nine Vancouver school board seats that will be up for grabs on the same day the council by-election is held.
Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver party has said it will name a council candidate via an internal party appointment the morning of August 31. The popular former school-board chair Patti Bacchus initially had a lot of chatter around her possible candidacy but on August 4 told the Straight she’d decided not to run.
The third party to hold a seat on council, the Greens, will be represented by Pete Fry, a community activist from Strathcona. The Greens’ Adrian Carr has sat on council since 2011. More recently, the once-fringe party won two seats on park board and three in the provincial legislature.
No matter who wins, Vision Vancouver will still hold a majority on council. But that hasn’t dampened enthusiasm, especially at one end of the political spectrum: the left.
The first person to announce her intention to enter the race was Judy Graves, a long-time advocate for the homeless. She’s on a ticket with OneCity, a relatively new political party that in 2014 unsuccessfully fielded one candidate for council.
Jean Swanson was the second. Swanson, also a respected activist dedicated to low-income housing, is running as an independent.
On August 29, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) decided against nominating a council candidate. Instead, members voted to throw their support behind Swanson. At the same meeting, they named Diana Day as a candidate for Vancouver school board. Day is an advocate for Indigenous issues and has served as a co-chair on the Vancouver school board's parent advisory council.
A third woman coming from outside Vancouver’s big three civic parties is Mary Jane Dunsdon. She’s with the local arm of Sensible B.C., which is best known for a failed but notable 2013 campaign to see British Columbia decriminalize marijuana. Dunsdon, a.k.a. Watermelon, has framed herself as an advocate for small business and specifically the city’s booming dispensary industry.
The council seat in question was left vacant in July when Vision Vancouver’s Geoff Meggs resigned to become Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff. The deadline for nominations is September 8 at 4 p.m. The by-election is October 14.