Vision Vancouver’s Diego Cardona seeks redemption in second city hall run

Cardona among five Vision candidates chosen Sunday at party’s nomination meeting

Diego Cardona is taking another shot at becoming a Vancouver city councillor and got one step closer to his goal Sunday by securing a nomination with Vision Vancouver.

The 22-year-old Killarney resident was the party’s candidate in last October’s byelection in which he finished in fifth place. That race, which was won by the NPA’s Hector Bremner, was for one position whereas the Oct. 20 general election gives voters 10 choices on council.

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It’s a point Cardona made Monday in an interview with the Courier.

“That helps,” he said of the better odds.

Cardona’s loss last October was a blow to a party that had not lost an election at city hall since Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision won power in 2008. The splitting of the left-of-centre vote, residents angry about the high cost of housing and disillusionment with Vision were among factors Cardona cited at the time of his loss.

Racism, he said, was also a factor; Cardona is a former Colombian refugee.

Asked what he learned from his byelection campaign, Cardona pointed to people hurting from the housing crisis and said he and his party “have to be able empathize with that anxiety without being defensive about our record, and articulate a vision that gives people hope and something to vote for and not just against.”

That vision will come with the release of a new housing platform as the campaign rolls out, although Cardona said he supports the Vision-led 10-year city housing strategy, which calls for the construction of 72,000 new homes over 10 years, including 12,000 social, supportive and co-operative units for lower and middle income households.

Cardona is one of three renters among Vision’s five council candidates. The others are Tanya Paz, an active transportation advocate, and Wei Qiao Zhang, a former athlete from China who has worked as a talk show host and constituency assistant to Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies.

Coun. Heather Deal is Vision’s only council incumbent. Current Vision park board commissioner, Catherine Evans, also secured a council nomination at Sunday’s meeting. Ian Campbell, a hereditary chief with Squamish Nation, is Vision’s mayoral candidate.

Vision’s school board candidates are Aaron Leung, a public education advocate, and Erin Arnold, a parent with professional counselling experience. Lawyer Shamim Shivji and Metis business owner Cameron Zubko are Vision’s park board candidates.

The NPA, meanwhile, has yet to choose any of its candidates aside from mayoral nominee Ken Sim. The party is expected to hold a nomination meeting before the end of the month. Bremner, who was ousted by the NPA as a potential mayoral candidate, has created Yes Vancouver and is expected to name candidates soon.

So, too, is Coalition Vancouver’s mayoral candidate, Wai Young, who plans to run with a team of candidates for council, school board and park board.

The Green Party’s council candidates are incumbent Adriane Carr, activist Pete Fry, park board commissioner Michael Wiebe and architect David Wong. United Church minister Christine Boyle and Brandon Yan, a non-profit director, are OneCity’s council candidates.

Anti-poverty advocate Jean Swanson, former city councillor Anne Roberts and social justice activist Derrick O’Keefe are COPE’s council candidates. Independent mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester, meanwhile, has hired veteran communications person Trish Webb to manage her campaign.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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