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Sarah Kirby-Yung will seek re-election as a Vancouver city councillor

Her decision brings number of incumbents to 10 seeking another term at city hall
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Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung was interested in a mayoral run with the NPA but now sits as an independent and will seek re-election as a councillor in the October municipal election.

Sarah Kirby-Yung will seek re-election this year as a city councillor.

Kirby-Yung's decision brings the total number of Vancouver council incumbents who plan to be on the ballot in October to 10.

Only COPE Coun. Jean Swanson is undecided whether she’ll seek a second term at city hall, although she has a "significant announcement" to make Thursday regarding the election, according to a news release Wednesday from COPE.

“I thought long and hard about it, but yes I am going to seek re-election,” Kirby-Yung said by telephone Monday (Jan. 10). “I still think that residents of Vancouver need a voice that’s willing to stand up and ask the tough questions and try to stand up for what I think residents want, and I think the balance is off in this city.”

The former park board commissioner said she hasn’t decided whether she’ll run as an independent or with a party. If it’s with a party, it won’t be with the NPA — the centre-right organization she represented when elected with four colleagues in 2018.

Kirby-Yung and councillors Colleen Hardwick and Lisa Dominato quit the party in April 2021, following a lead set by Rebecca Bligh, who left the NPA in 2019. Coun. Melissa De Genova is the party’s lone representative on council.

Kirby-Yung noted she continues to work closely with Bligh and Dominato, a possible hint the trio could run together with a party. Ken Sim, who was the NPA’s mayoral candidate in the 2018 race and narrowly lost to Kennedy Stewart, is now the mayoral nominee for the newly created A Better City party.

Asked whether she was interested in a run with A Better City, Kirby-Yung said she has been approached by several organizations.

“There’s lots of conversations, both direct and indirect, going on,” she said. “I’m always happy to have conversations, but I haven’t made any decisions yet.”

Kirby-Yung, Hardwick and Dominato resigned from the NPA after its board appointed current park board commissioner John Coupar in April 2021 as the party’s mayoral candidate for the 2022 election.

At the time, the trio of councillors said they were “blindsided” by the surprise move, which left no option for a nomination contest.

“It shut down the opportunity for anybody to throw their hat in the ring and the opportunity to have a good dialogue and debate against potential prospects,” said Kirby-Yung, who was interested in a mayoral run with the NPA. “They shut down that opportunity for me and any number of good candidates.”

Hardwick was also interested in leading the NPA in 2022, but has since launched TEAM for a Livable Vancouver and plans to seek the mayoral nomination for the organization.

Hardwick’s entry in the mayoral race would add to an already crowded field, with former NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim and longtime public affairs and campaign strategist Mark Marissen looking to derail Stewart’s re-election bid.

Vision Vancouver also wants to win back seats at city hall, but its executive has yet to say whether the once-dominant political force will run a mayoral candidate. Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr hasn’t ruled out a mayoral run, neither has former Vision councillor Andrea Reimer.

Former Vancouver-Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould could also be a candidate.

Vancouver has never elected a woman as mayor, despite many strong candidates involved in races over the past two decades. Yet, the current roster at city hall has only three men — Stewart, Pete Fry and Michael Wiebe — serving on what is the city’s first-ever majority women council.

mhowell@glaciermedia.ca

@Howellings