You don’t necessarily need to have a couple of million bucks to become the mayor of Vancouver but it sure helps.
In the last election, Vision Vancouver spent $2.25 million to the NPA’s $2.6 million and, after the B.C. Liberal government squashed an NDP attempt earlier this month to allow campaign spending limits in the upcoming civic election, it seems inevitable that deep-pocketed property development companies and other donors will once again play a major role in deciding who gets to sit in the big chair at city hall for the next three years.
Not that this will necessarily stop independent candidates from running.
In fact, although the election day is still six months away, the mayoral run is already a three-dog race.
Vision incumbent Gregor Robertson, having resisted the call of federal or provincial politics, announced in early April that he is seeking a third term.
His opposition so far comes from Glen Chernen of the newly launched Cedar Party and a small business owner named Colin Shandler.
In a phone interview with the Courier, Shandler said he is disappointed his political debut has not received the same widespread media coverage that Robertson’s reelection bid has.
“A level playing field is a level playing field,” said Shandler. “All I’m doing is exactly what the mayor did. ‘Hey I’m running for mayor.’ If you guys can publish that on his behalf, you can publish that on my behalf because that is fair.”
Shandler, who owns the Tipper Restaurant and Review Room in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood, announced his mayoral campaign on the restaurant’s website as well as via social media.
“It’s on a Facebook site, it’s on a website, it’s on a Twitter feed and nobody, until right now, has picked up the phone,” said Shandler last week. “There is a breadcrumb trail if people actually cared to look.”
City of Vancouver communications manager Tobin Postma pointed out that the paperwork hasn’t yet been finalized for people interested in running for office, whether it is for mayor, city council, the park board or school trustee.
“The nominating period for the election is Sept. 30 to Oct. 10, so individuals who want to be candidates, once they’ve completed the nomination process and election information is confirmed, we will add them to the website as we go.”
In the 2011 election, Robertson earned more votes — 53.17 per cent — than all other candidates combined and 13 per cent more than NPA runner-up Suzanne Anton.
Randy Helten of Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver and Gerry McGuire of Vancouver Citizen’s Voice combined for 3.6 per cent of votes, while all eight independent candidates each earned less than one per cent.
The election is Nov. 15.