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Mike Howell: Nine Vancouver council incumbents to seek re-election in 2022

COPE Coun. Jean Swanson: 'I haven't decided yet if I'll run again or not'
Green Party Coun. Michael Wiebe and eight other members of city council, including Mayor Kennedy Stewart, say they will seek re-election in the October 2022 municipal election.

With only a couple of weeks before 2022 arrives, and the silly season of political campaigns on the horizon, I thought I’d poll the 11-member city council to see who’s seeking re-election in October.

Some have already been very public about their intentions, particularly Mayor Kennedy Stewart who announced his re-election bid shortly after he won the mayoral race in 2018.

In fact, the former NDP MP who ran as an independent, is forming his own party.

Regular readers will have read why Stewart wants to run again — to continue the work he started. 

It includes bringing in more senior government money for housing, continuing to pressure the feds to allow decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs, getting the Broadway subway expanded to UBC, etc.

So which of the 10 councillors will join Stewart in a re-election bid?

I contacted all of them Dec. 14 via a blanket email, followed by texts and direct messages to those who didn’t meet my deadline; Coun. Rebecca Bligh would only confirm she is seeking re-election while Sarah Kirby-Yung didn’t respond before this column was posted.

But I did hear from Kirby-Yung back in April on this question. At the time, she was considered a potential NPA mayoral candidate until the party’s executive selected park board commissioner John Coupar as their leader.

In April is when Kirby-Yung and councillors Lisa Dominato and Colleen Hardwick quit the NPA. Here’s what Kirby-Yung said then:

“I honestly don’t know. I know that in making this decision, it’s probably not going to enhance my political fortunes. But I don’t think it would be smart or wise of me to make any direct response and say I’m going to run again, or I’m going to run with this party or a group of like-minded candidates.”

The question I posed to councillors last week was whether they were seeking re-election, and if they were, to explain why voters should re-elect them; yes, I could have called each of them, but having done that many times over the years, it can be a tedious exercise, particularly when deadline looms.

Plus, who talks to anyone of the phone nowadays? That’s sort of a joke. Sort of. Ha, ha.

I instructed councillors to keep their answers to a maximum of 50 words or so. Some hit the target, others apparently suffer from the same incurable writing disease as yours truly, which is the need to be “comprehensive.”

Which is also to say that some of the copy was edited.

Anyway, as the headline to this column says, at least nine members of council hope to win their seats back when voters go to the polls next October. Here, in no particular order, are their reasons for seeking or possibly not seeking another four years at city hall:

Coun. Colleen Hardwick: “I am going to run for a [mayoral] nomination with the new TEAM for a Livable City Association in Q1 of 2022. Presuming I am successful in winning a nomination, I will run again together with a TEAM of strong candidates to course-correct the direction of the city.

Why should voters re-elect me? Because I have the background, knowledge and experience to help course-correct the city. Some key achievements: the appointment of our inaugural Auditor General [Mike Macdonell]. The baseline review of the city’s business and financial plans. My 50 neighbourhoods initiative emphasizing community-centred planning. And, my continued pressure to obtain actual data to rationalize the city's Housing Vancouver targets. I persist!”

Green Party Coun. Pete Fry: “Yes, I intend to seek re-election in 2022. COVID has taken the most fractured and fragile aspects of our society and broken it into a million pieces, our social fabric is more disjointed and frayed than ever and we are heading into our third year of a global pandemic. I hope to continue serving with integrity, thoughtfulness, and compassionate leadership.”

COPE Coun. Jean Swanson: “I haven’t decided yet if I’ll run again or not. If I do, it will be to keep working for the things I’ve worked for for the last 45 years or so: better tenant protections; support and housing for folks who are homeless and those earning under $50K a year, and support for working, low-income, racialized and Indigenous folks; safe supply for folks who use drugs. And a new thing for me: climate justice.”

Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr: “I plan to run again in 2022. I topped the polls in 2014 and 2018 and hope people continue to vote for me because they value my experience and leadership on the urgent issues of our times, especially the climate, COVID and housing emergencies, and my collaborative, balanced and fair approach to problem-solving, decision-making and governance. I am prepared to take on the tough challenges that our city and planet face. I am committed to acting in the best public interest.”

Green Party Coun. Michael Wiebe: “Last year was a very difficult year for me personally [conflict-of-interest court case] yet I will be seeking re-election in 2022. I care about this city and believe we still have a lot of work to do to create the paradigm shift this city needs.”

Coun. Lisa Dominato (independent): "Yes. I can be trusted to lead with integrity and common sense. I listen, bring people together and focus on getting results. I work directly with residents and businesses who reach out to me looking for help. I will continue to focus on cutting red tape and transforming city services so residents and businesses can thrive and make Vancouver home. I represent the diverse interests of Vancouverites on critical issues like housing and homelessness, affordability, safe and inclusive neighbourhoods, public spaces, core services and resilient infrastructure.”

OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle: “I am running for re-election in 2022 to continue to lead on climate action, on affordable housing and on building a city that works for all of us. Since 2018, I have led council’s work on addressing the climate emergency by tackling the largest sources of carbon pollution in Vancouver [buildings and transportation] with a strong equity lens.

Amid a worsening drug poisoning crisis, I have consistently advocated for life-saving harm reduction supports, safe supply, and decriminalization. I have supported the public services that residents rely on, including public library services and the move to fine-free libraries.

I led council to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. I have worked to strengthen tenant protections, especially for our most vulnerable and housing insecure neighbours.

Finally, I have worked incredibly hard to protect and expand non-market, co-op and rental housing in every neighbourhood of Vancouver. But this council has been too slow and too cautious in taking action to address the housing crisis, and while council delays, families and working people are being pushed further out of the city. We need to do more.”

NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova: “I’m committed to making Vancouver a safe, family-friendly city — and that starts with affordability. I’ve fought hard to make it quicker and easier to build affordable housing and for 24-hour childcare. These are baby steps, but I’m excited to do more.”

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