This mayoral race is a doozy.
Never in my time of covering Vancouver civic elections — from the 2002 race to present — have so many credible candidates wanted the job. And when I write “credible,” I mean people with a community profile and either a history in politics or something close to it.
I won’t name them to avoid being pilloried for favouring one candidate over another.
Suffice to say that not all 21 mayoral candidates are qualified to run the city.
In the past five elections, it has largely been a two-way race for the mayor’s chair — COPE’s Larry Campbell and the NPA’s Jennifer Clarke in 2002, Vision Vancouver’s Jim Green and Sam Sullivan (NPA) in 2005, Vision’s Gregor Robertson and Peter Ladner (NPA) in 2008, Robertson and Suzanne Anton (NPA) in 2011 and Robertson and Kirk LaPointe (NPA) in 2014.
As a reporter who covered these races, I can tell you it was a more focused exercise to report, write and analyze the candidates’ speeches, policies and how they carried themselves in question-and-answer periods at news conferences and debates.
This is not the case this campaign.
I’m getting inundated with news releases from various parties and independents. Most are coming via email, a few via social media and some have left phone messages. Every candidate and party wants to get their messages out, their policies publicized, their promises promoted.
While previous campaigns were busy, this campaign is about to reach a whole other level of information overload as we get closer to election day, Oct. 20. Sorting through the news releases, the tweets, the Facebook messages and phone messages is a tedious task.
I guess we can blame Robertson for retiring, coupled with new campaign finance rules that shut out big money donations from developers and unions. There’s also the reality that Vision is not running a mayoral candidate, the first time in the party’s history.
In addition, all but one Vision councillor — Heather Deal — are calling it quits, leaving Vision’s 10-year majority rule at city hall for the taking. Maybe that’s why 158 candidates are vying for 27 available positions — from the mayor’s chair to council, school board and park board.
As a civic affairs reporter, this is all very exciting and daunting, at the same time.
Apologies in advance to candidates and voters, but we’re not going to get to every news release and follow up with interviews and analysis. We’re not going to attend every news conference, or return all phone messages. That’s impossible.
As of writing this, I’ve been to three news conferences this September — one with Vision Vancouver, one with COPE and one with independent mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart. A few television camera operators showed up and reporters were scarce; I counted one at the Vision newser, none at COPE and one at Stewart’s event.
The good news is I pretty much got to ask all my questions at the three events. The bad news is I can’t necessarily write about one candidate’s housing policy promises without comparing them to the policies of all the other “credible” candidates.
Same goes for writing a profile about one candidate and not the others.
Frankly, this democracy thing has really put a cramp in my journalism style.
So that’s where you come in.
If you really care about the direction this city may or may not take in the next four years, you probably want to do some research and check out who is running and what they stand for. You’ll find some of that information in previous, present and future stories in the Courier.
You’ll also find it in other media and on the city’s website, where candidates have uploaded photographs, bios and some of their ideas.
If video is more your thing, check out the archived livestream of our mayoral debate with eight of the candidates. That occurred Monday night at the downtown campus of SFU. The candidates were peppered with a variety of questions from the Courier (I got to ask a few), Business in Vancouver and Vancouver Is Awesome.
We’re going to have a new mayor, Vancouver, and a new council.
Up to you to make an informed choice.