This Saturday, Vancouver voters will choose 10 city councillors and one mayor. As a pubic service for gamblers, I've handicapped the election. Good luck.
Mike Klassen (3/1): Following the 2008 civic election, which nearly wiped out the NPA, Klassen, alongside fellow former NPA operative Daniel Fontaine, launched a website (citycaucus.com) aimed at Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver. And it worked. Through FOI requests and breaking stories, CityCaucus helped fuel the media narrative, raise Klassen's profile and damage the Robertson brand. Expect more hyper-partisan websites from wannabe city councillors inspired by CityCaucus success. And borrow grandma's mattress money. Klassen's a lock.
Andrea Reimer (2/1): The safest bet this election. Reimer (a.k.a. The Right Side of Robertson's Brain) is smart, ambitious and unencumbered by loyalty and shame. First elected to Vancouver school board as a Green Party member, Reimer jumped ship in '08, opting for the cash-flush Vision Vancouver machine. Her influence on council, while great, remains incalculable as she oversees the secret "greening" of city hall. While tweeting in 2009, she sarcastically recommended police arrest plus-sized housing minister Rich Coleman and drop "him off at a Jenny Craig." Last week, she said the city may move Occupy Vancouver protesters into "an indoor space where they could have things like offices." City manager Penny Ballem quickly rejected Reimer's claims. Puzzled? Forget it. You're no match for her Machiavellian ways. Bet against Reimer at your own risk.
Tim Stevenson (10/1): More than any other city councillor, Stevenson owes his three-term council career to the strident partisanship of Vancouver voters. In fact, it's hard to imagine Stevenson getting out of bed, let alone getting elected, without help from Vision Vancouver. But as Vision's only openly gay councillor, Stevenson enjoys support from the powerful gay voting block. After nine years on council, he's got two things going for him---name recognition and homosexuality. Will that be enough? Bet cautiously.
Sean Bickerton (5/1): If Stevenson loses, he can blame Bickerton, a gay NPA candidate who's running this election's gay-friendliest campaign. During a recent interview with gay newspaper Xtra!, Bickerton called for more police in Davie Village to protect gay folks from roaming thugs. Bickerton's fear-mongering, which ignores two happy facts---no recent gay-bashing incidents and the relative safety of Davie Village compared to other Vancouver neighbourhoods---may steal votes normally reserved for Stevenson. Additionally, according to Bickerton, city hall must grant the gay pride parade "civic event" status, with taxpayers paying police and sanitation costs. Finally, in his candidate profile on the NPA website, Bickerton says he's an "enthusiastic container gardener." Slam dunk. Bickerton wins.
Francis Wong (12/1): Francis who? No, Francis Wong. He's an NPA candidate. Vancouver's morphing into a pan-Asian state, and despite urban decay, Chinatown remains politically important. And Wong knows Chinatown. His resume reads like a neighbourhood directory. Vice-president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society, director of the Sun Yet Sen Garden, director of the Chinatown Revitalization Committee, director of the Chinatown New Century Lion's Club, co-creator of Van Van, Chinatown's bizarre bamboo-eating mascot. All that must count for something. Wong's a dark horse with payday potential.
Gregor Robertson (3/1): If Robertson loses next Saturday, he'll barely notice. He'll smile, step down in December and accept a vague "position" at some rich enviro-group funded by Tides Canada or the Endswell Foundation. He'll weekend in Hollyhock, build on 82 acres of ocean-front property owned by Treedom Ventures, a Robertson asset, and pick daisies with Joel Solomon. Blissed out. A front-running risk.
Suzanne Anton (3/1): Before Occupy Vancouver went from Woodstock to The Road Warrior, Anton was a long shot. But thanks to Robertson's incompetence, she's closed the gap. Too little too late? Maybe. But consider this, former mayoral candidate Peter Ladner led a divided NPA into the '08 election, when only 30 per cent of eligible voters participated, and still received 48,794 votes. This Saturday, if five per cent of the missing 70 per cent vote against the "99 per cent" outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, Anton takes the mayor's chair. Good odds.