Municipals 2008 in Vancouver

There’s still a few forlorn — whether for the winner last Tuesday or one of the also-rans, it matters not — election signs left around our neighbourhood, but, with the municipal vote coming fast on November 15, I came home on the weekend to see a raft of “vote for…” signs for the mayor’s chair, the city council, the school board and the parks board.

For those of you not in Vancouver, a couple of pointers to keep in mind: first, we have party politics (municipal parties) dominating municipal elections; second, everyone is elected on a city-wide basis (there are no wards). As a result, this weekend’s growing signage is a reasonable proxy for how well the party-led campaigns (there are no shortage of independent candidacies as well) are getting off the mark.

From that point of view, Vision Vancouver — the new(ish) party — has their act together.

The neighbourhood, notorious for its reflexive voting for any NPA (the party that has controlled Vancouver politics for most of the last seven decades) candidate, is nevertheless full of signs for the Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate, Gregor Robertson, as well as Vision candidates for other offices. I saw only one candidate for city council for the NPA who as yet had supporters taking lawn signs. COPE (the left side party) and the NPA were conspicuous by their absence.

Now, it’s early days yet — if I was running a campaign, I’d have waited until after the Federal show was out of the way, too — and perhaps when I make it home this weekend the sign balance will have changed. (I’m also expecting to see billboards and bus shelter ads in place.) Still, this ought not to have been a surprise to anyone, and I am surprised that more candidates, and the parties, are so slow off the mark.

There’s been indications that this year could be Vision’s year to shine: it will be interesting to see if the sign imbalance continues, especially in my west side neighbourhood, an NPA stronghold.

Intermixed with this is a by-election to replace Gregor Robertson in Vancouver-Fairview, where he had been the MLA prior to stepping down to run for mayor. Some of those signs were actually up prior to the Federal vote. The governing party in BC has always styled itself as the “BC Liberals” to distinguish itself from the Federal ones; this time around the provincial NDP candidates are also styling themselves as “BC NDP”. A smart move, I think, given that the by-election has to contend with the Federal vote and the municipal one, and one I expect to see carry over into next year’s general election.

As for the content of the municipal race, I find myself in a bit of a pickle. I like to see reasonable alternations of power, and in addition there are good reasons in the Vision platform for me to vote for Vision to control the civic apparatus next session. (I also like a council and boards with multiple voices on them, and thus intend to support candidates from all the parties.) But I have also always liked Peter Ladner (the NPA mayoral candidate, and the man who managed to wrest the nomination away from Sam Sullivan, the current mayor). We may have party politics in Vancouver, but the vote (at least for me) is anything but reflexive, and I suspect I will be weighing the options right up until I walk into the polling station in mid-November.

In any event, it does wash the taste of our recent Seinfeldian Federal exercise out of my mouth.

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