Squamish Nation hereditary chief Ian Campbell made what was inevitable last week official Thursday: He confirmed he is Vision Vancouver’s mayoral candidate going into the Oct. 20 municipal election.
Campbell announced the news one week after his only competitor, tech entrepreneur Taleeb Noormohamed, pulled out of the leadership race after he suffered a “sudden cardiac event.” The Vision board decided Wednesday not to open up the contest to another nominee.
“I’m very grateful for the board’s decision to allow me to enter this race into the fall election,” Campbell told reporters outside Creekside community centre, where he earlier joined potential Vision council candidate Wei Qiao Zhang in his campaign launch. “It’s a tremendous time for the people in Vancouver to vote for a leader who will listen to the concerns of the people. My priorities match the concerns, the number one issue being affordable housing and solving that problem.”
Campbell, 45, said he would have preferred to compete for the position but recognized Noormohamed’s priority should be his health and not politics. He thanked Noormohamed for his leadership and dedication to participate in the race and wished him a speedy recovery.
Campbell becomes Vision’s third mayoral candidate in the party’s history. Jim Green ran unsuccessfully in the 2005 election before Gregor Robertson won a majority at city hall in 2008 and continued that streak in 2011 and 2014. Robertson will retire in the fall.
If he were to be elected, Campbell would become the first Indigenous mayor in the city’s history. To do that, he would have to defeat what’s becoming a crowded field of mayoral candidates on both the right and left of the political spectrum.
Political outsider Ken Sim, a businessman who co-founded a seniors’ home care service and bagel business, won the Non-Partisan Association’s leadership race Sunday night, defeating park board commissioner John Coupar and self-described financial analyst Glen Chernen.
Asked for his reaction to Sim’s victory, Campbell didn’t mention Sim or the name of the NPA in his response. Instead, he talked about serving four terms as an elected councillor of the Squamish Nation and how he has worked and continues to work with all levels of government.
“I’m open to listen to diverse opinions and respect peoples’ opinions, but I think we’re at a crossroads in Vancouver where it’s essential that we continue to build on the tangible results that Vision has created,” he said.
Others competing to replace Robertson are independent candidates Shauna Sylvester of SFU’s Centre for Dialogue, Burnaby-South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart and Wai Young of Coalition Vancouver. NPA Coun. Hector Bremner said he is launching a new party by the end of the month and he will compete to be its mayoral candidate.
Financial planner David Chen is seeking the mayoral nomination with ProVancouver. Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr still hasn’t ruled out a run and neither has Patrick Condon with COPE.
Vision originally scheduled June 24 for its mayoral nomination contest. Nomination races for seats on council, school board and park board are scheduled for July 8.
Zhang, 36, hopes to be one of Vision’s council candidates. He came to Canada from China as an international student and now lives in Killarney with his wife and two young children. He hosts a television talk show—speaking English and Mandarin--and has worked as a constituency assistant to Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies.
In the 2017 provincial election, Zhang was an advisor to Premier John Horgan “on all Chinese issues,” according to friend and retired UBC professor Bill McMichael, who introduced Zhang at his launch.
“I’m running because I want your children and my children, when graduated from college, can see a future with a promising career and a real chance to owning a home in Vancouver,” said Zhang, a University of Toronto grad in sociology and philosophy.
Other potential Vision council candidates include cycling advocate Tanya Paz, park board commissioner Catherine Evans, Diego Cardona (he was Vision’s candidate in last fall’s council byelection) and incumbent councillors Raymond Louie and Heather Deal.