Mayoral candidate Mark Marissen's mom wants voters to know how kind-hearted he is

He's not the first Vancouver mayoral candidate who sees his mother as an asset on the campaign trail—and he likely won't be the last

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Over the years, Progress Vancouver mayoral candidate Mark Marissen has been characterized as a hardball political operative.

      Working the political backrooms on behalf of his ex-wife, Christy Clark, Marissen helped ensure her victory in a hard-fought party leadership campaign in 2011. He also played a key role in the B.C. Liberals' upset win over the NDP in 2013.

      That's not all. Marissen spearheaded Stéphane Dion's surprising come-from-behind victory in the 2006 federal Liberal leadership race and helped Michael Lee nearly win the 2018 B.C. Liberal leadership contest.

      After Marissen announced that he would run for mayor of Vancouver earlier this year, I noted that he has spent a great deal of time researching housing issues.

      I also pointed out that he can "deliver an eviscerating soundbite in the media with the best of them". So on paper, he has the makings of running a competitive campaign.

      But I questioned whether Marissen was kind enough to be mayor of Vancouver, given that voters have tended to elect less combative politicians to the city's top job.

      Marissen, being a wily political operative, has issued a year-end response.

      This week, he put out a video suggesting that he is, indeed, very kind. And the person advancing this argument is none other than his mom, Marja Tensen.

      "My son is a kind person," Mama says in the video above. "He is a man who cares deeply for people around him and the city he loves."

      The video includes lots of cute photos of young Mark. There's also imagery of Marissen sweetly pouring tea for his mother at the dining room table.

      It's bound to be a hit with seniors, who are more likely to vote than other demographic groups.

      The Marissen video is reminiscent of former mayor Gordon Campbell's habit of bringing out his mother, Peg, to bolster his appeal to women and older voters.

      Peg Campbell was a single mother, prompting her son to regularly quip that he learned "Pegonomics" from her.

      In 1990, Gordon Campbell was photographed with his mom Peg in the Vancouver mayor's office.
      City of Vancouver

      Is Vancouver ready for another alpha-male mayor?

      In recent years, Vancouverites have elected several beta males to the top job.

      They include Mike Harcourt, Philip Owen, Sam Sullivan, Gregor Robertson, and Kennedy Stewart. None of them was particularly chippy in their dealings with opponents or the media.

      They preferred to take the high road and, in some cases, let surrogates in their campaigns do the necessary political mudslinging to seize victory.

      More alpha males—such as Jonathan Baker, David Cadman, Jim Green, and Kirk LaPointe—fell short in their Vancouver mayoral bids.

      Since 1980, Vancouver has actually had only two mayors who could be characterized as alpha males: Gordon Campbell and Larry Campbell.

      If Marissen wins the 2022 election, he just might be the third.