The best and worst of Vancouver’s byelection

Marijuana enthusiasts and artisan sausage makers all part of byelection mix

12th and Cambie

So that wild and crazy byelection is over.

A real humdinger, eh.

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Why the blank look?

I take it you have no idea what I’m talking about.

C’mon man — the byelection!

You know, the one where the NPA’s Hector Bremner won the council race? Not ringing a bell? The same one where the Green Party and Vision Vancouver won three seats each on school board, the NPA two and OneCity’s Carrie Bercic one?

Right, I forgot, you could care less.

But what if I put a click-baity list together about some of the wild and crazy stuff that went on during the campaign. Sound good? You feeling it? Great. Then prepare to lock your eyeballs on this bit of poetry I pieced together for your reading pleasure.

Best attention-grabbing campaign: Hands down, it was the independent candidate Jean Swanson and her band of young people whose “tax the rich” slogan resonated more with voters — and media — than, say, “we need more inclusionary zoning and a city-wide plan, people!” Yes, maybe some of Swanson’s ideas such as a “rent freeze” weren’t doable at city hall. She knew that but wanted to bring attention to issues of inequality and poverty. Holding a rally outside Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s $75-million Point Grey home and calling for a “mansion tax” made for good television. Swanson placed second in the council race, with 21 per cent of the vote. Another 3,110 votes and she would be a councillor.

Green Party candidate Judy Zaichkowsky finished second in the school board race. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Best example that voting is not all about picking candidates whose surnames begin with letters at the beginning of the alphabet (and therefore are listed at the top of the ballot): Judy Zaichkowsky. She was one of three Green candidates elected to school board, although Joy Alexander, Fraser Ballantyne, Carrie Bercic, Ken Clement and Lisa Dominato also made the cut.

Council candidate most likely to get Courier photographer and meat lover Dan Toulgoet’s vote:  Gary Lee, who ran as an independent and collected 886 votes for a seventh-place finish. According to Lee’s bio posted on the city’s website, the University of B.C. engineering grad “enjoys making artisan sausage.” If you see him, you’re supposed to ask him about “the infamous char siu secret recipe.” (Note to Toulgoet: Meat is murder, Dan, meat is murder.)

OneCity candidate Carrie Bercic won a seat on the school board. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Best showing by a newish party: OneCity. A splinter party of COPE that formed in 2014, OneCity made its own history Saturday when it elected its first candidate to civic government. Carrie Bercic is now a school trustee. Running mate Erica Jaaf finished three spots, or just under 500 votes, out of joining Bercic on the board. Judy Graves, the city’s former homeless advocate, placed fourth in the council race.

Mary Jean "Watermelon" Dunsdon finished sixth in the race for a council seat. Photo Jennifer Gauthier

The “Up in Smoke” award goes to: All those marijuana enthusiasts and potificators (my word) who didn’t bother to show up and vote for Sensible Vancouver candidate Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon, who placed sixth in the council race with less than four per cent of the vote. How can that be? She’s got huge cred in the marijuana world. And you can’t go anywhere in this city without smelling the burning herb. Did all those thousands of people at the 4/20 rally this year forget to vote? Dude.

The weirdest campaign video goes to: Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party. On the day Vision announced that Diego Cardona would be its council candidate, the party released a video featuring the mayor and Cardona. Robertson did all the talking. Cardona said nothing. Weird.

Only 11 per cent of the city's 442,792 eligible voters cast a ballot in the Oct. 14 byelection. Photo Dan Toulgoet

The lame voter award goes to: The almost 400,000 eligible voters in Vancouver who couldn’t be bothered to cast a ballot in the byelection. I assume some of the disinterested pay property taxes and have kids in school. To all of you:  Please don’t phone or email me to gripe about the issue of the day in your neighbourhood.

Best website for coverage of the election results: That would be the City of Vancouver. People interested in the race could easily go to one page and view the results as they came in. The same page provided the percentage of each candidate’s vote, number of eligible voters and how dismal the voter turnout was. The city, however, could do something about getting the results up sooner. What gives? Aren’t all those voting machines electronic?

Best reading material to prepare for the 2018 civic election: The Independent Election Task Force report that went before city council earlier this year. It provides an oversight of what needs to be done to get more people to the polls and recommends a series of changes, including adopting a proportional voting system, extending voting rights to permanent residents and ways to get the big money out of civic politics.

Best reason to stop typing this sentence: I’m byelectioned out and need to get back to watching baseball.


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