I can understand why you may not be paying much attention to the imminent Vancouver School Board and city council byelections on Oct. 14.
In a summer like no other, we have been beset by serious distractions not the least of which are: the forest fire crisis aided and abetted by record heat and drought, the escalating opioid overdose crisis, Hurricane Harvey smacking into Houston and an even worse flooding disaster hitting South Asia, and, oh yeah, there’s no immediate relief in sight for housing affordability in Vancouver. But that’s an ongoing saga.
And, if your inbox isn’t yet jammed to overflowing, there is that idiot political leader — well, actually, there are two of them. But the one who seems determined to take the yellow cake is intent on exploding nuclear devices while the other one is threatening hell fire and damnation in response.
In spite of all that, our local double-barreled byelections limp onward.
And the one to replace city councillor Geoff Meggs, who took a job as Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, would be a good place to start.
The surprise would be if Vision actually won this one. Byelections this far along in a government’s life tend not to view the incumbent party favourably. Add to that the fact that the centre left will have four candidates competing for the lone seat. That includes long-time anti-poverty crusader Jean Swanson who is waving about, in an unseemly manner I’m inclined to think, her Order of Canada snowflake as reason to vote for her.
Vision’s chances are even slimmer when you realize that even momentarily disenchanted Vision supporters know that if they stick it to Gregor and his crew, Vision will still hold the majority at council.
Given the mood of the times in Victoria with the NDP hanging on thanks to the good graces of the Green Party, the most interesting result would be the election of perennial Green candidate and community organizer Pete Fry.
As for the once indomitable NPA, of interest is the fact that, while their council-winning candidates last time round did better than all the Visionistas who safely crossed the line, their mayoral guy, Kirk LaPointe is sitting this one out and gives every appearance that he has had enough of electoral politics. Whoever they put up will be known later this week, after the Courier’s print deadline — and if they win, it should give Mayor Gregor Robertson pause regarding his plans to run one more time next year.
By the way, while Vision’s candidate wasn’t announced by my deadline, what I can tell is it will be a person of the male persuasion and one who has never before faced a public election at any level of government. Call it investing in the future, if there is one.
Now, for the school board. Recall that the whole gang of nine was fired just last year for failing to meet their legal obligations and pass a balanced budget. While all that was going on, at least four senior staff took medical stress leave complaining to two separate investigations that they were being harassed and bullied by board members.
Also recall that the board was evenly split with four NPA and four Vision trustees while the sole Green trustee played switch-hitter, picking who should be chair and which motions she would support. Well, by my count, at least six of those trustees will be running again. Oh joy.
Remarkably, both the NPA and Vision are putting up a slate of five for the nine spots, which apparently makes it more likely folks will get elected but makes it highly unlikely that either party will hold a majority, leaving that once again to the Green candidate or candidates.
One person who is not running is Patti Bacchus. She topped the polls the last time she ran for Vision. Since the firing and reports on bullying by WorkSafe BC and independent investigator Roslyn Goldner, Bacchus has been seen as the bully-in-chief. She has also expressed an interest in running for the NDP provincially and Vision for both council and school board once more. She either wisely changed her mind or had it changed for her, thus avoiding being a liability.
Meanwhile both the school board secretary treasurer and the superintendent at the time of the firings have fled the scene. And who knows what other senior staff will be thinking of packing their bags dependent on the byelection outcome.