Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer posted the following statement on her Facebook page:
I am writing to you today with mixed emotions to let you know that after serving four terms in municipal government, I will not be seeking reelection in the 2018 Vancouver election. There is never a good time to make this kind of an announcement, and with an unexpected byelection my intention to share my decision this past summer became challenging. With less than a year now before the general election, it’s time.
Last December, I took some time to reflect on my work and role in municipal government which began in 2002. I don’t know that you can ever feel in life like you’ve done everything you wanted to do but I do feel that the issues I ran on and the initiatives I’ve championed—from Greenest City to Engaged City to City of Reconciliation, from opening government and public spaces, from transforming the city’s approach to community planning and the economy to overseeing the largest municipal expansion of childcare in Canada—have moved farther than I would have thought possible.
Being elected is about more than changing policies though: it’s about leadership. And my approach to leadership has always been to lean in with my strengths and a lot of hard work to help people see possibility for themselves and their community where they may not have otherwise seen it; to give visibility to people who had been unseen; to fight for people who needed a champion, and to work with communities to build their tool kits and capacity to drive their own futures. I am so grateful for what I’ve been able to achieve on these fronts these last 15 years, especially the last nine years with Vision Vancouver. But being successful at this was also always intended to lead to my exit.
There is a movement of young, indigenous and racialized Vancouverites who have struggled to be seen and heard on their own terms by traditional political movements but who now have a platform to move forward within the City and within Vision Vancouver. It makes me incredibly hopeful for the future of Vancouver that so many from this movement have expressed to me their interest in stepping into electoral politics and running with Vision in 2018. At the same time, they need space to build their own legacies.
There are so many accomplishments that I am proud of and have felt both the responsibility and the privilege to advance. But it's hard to look backward when I have a lot of work left to do before my term is over.
In the next 12 months I am determined to finally be successful in my 15-year effort to get campaign finance reform rules from the provincial government that ban corporate, union, and large individual contributions in Vancouver elections, to pass a poverty reduction strategy, to have Council adopt the update on the 2005 gender equity strategy, to get the zero waste action plan in place, to create an enduring framework for the community, labour, business and the City to work on just transition to 100 percent renewable energy, and to establish the DTES indigenous healing and wellness centre...to name a few things.
As some of you know, I have been learning some Squamish as part of my commitment to reconciliation. One of my favourite phrases is “Ha7lh sḵwálwen” which was roughly translated to me as “my heart and mind are filled with good feelings”.
Vancouver, ha7lh sḵwálwen. None of this city-building, world-changing policy would have been possible without you. I am very grateful to the many mentors I have had and for all of you I’ve been able to connect with who are also fighting with courage, passion and compassion to advance critical issues. I am grateful for every one of the many messages of support and encouragement I’ve received over the years and equally so for the messages of constructive criticism sent in good faith.
Ha7lh sḵwálwen for my colleagues in Vision Vancouver who have helped me make courageous ideas ready for prime time and most especially to Gregor who has been down to take on some tough fights no matter how daunting the task seemed.
Most of all, to the many people who have their full time effort focused on the struggle to get by in Vancouver, ha7lh sḵwálwen: there are so many times when I have thought it was impossible to work harder but having you reach out with your stories and experiences, and your hopes and aspirations for an affordable, just, engaged, green, reconciled Vancouver have been what drives me late into the night and out of bed early in the morning to try to find a way to change hearts and minds, and build the partnerships to support needed changes.
As for what's next for me after November 2018, I don't know and that's exciting if not a bit scary. The trend in politics and public discourse toward iconoclasts is terrifying to me. History has shown us that this type of leader is devastating to social and economic justice, the environment, civil liberties, and human rights.
The fact that it is happening at a time when we most need to find a way to celebrate our differences and work together to deal with massive environmental catastrophe and social and economic inequities that crush our communities fills me with despair but also resolve.
When I was first elected, I was the sole Green on the Vancouver School Board, the first in Canada. There was a solid majority of COPE trustees and they didn't need my vote. It would have been easy to spend my nights at the board criticizing everything the majority did. It's what some Greens wanted and what my activist friends would have felt most comfortable supporting.
However, that’s not what public education needed. It needed principled, values-based collaboration. It needed me to learn what I was wrong about and how to advance what is right with grace. This is what I have tried to do in the 15 years since I was first elected, it's why I joined Vision Vancouver which I continue to believe is an essential political vehicle for progressives to unite in common purpose to get this work done and it's what I will continue to do wherever the future takes me.
Thank you. Onwards and upwards.