After the already-crowded field of candidates in Vancouver’s mayoral election grew even larger earlier this week, Adriane Carr, a popular Green Party councillor, is saying she is seriously considering a run because she thinks Mayor Kennedy Stewart is unreliable on climate-change issues.
Ms. Carr said her entry into the mayoral race might be the only way to get the needed six votes on Vancouver’s 11-person council to lower carbon emissions in the city, though she is aware her presence on the ballot could mean vote-splitting on the left between her and Mr. Stewart.
“We’ve been talking to a variety of people about how to make sure we could get six votes,” Ms. Carr said. “We are the strongest party right now, but we can’t move things forward without the necessary votes.”
If she runs, she will join an existing group of five declared mayoral candidates. The latest to join the race was Colleen Hardwick, an independent city councillor, who was acclaimed Sunday as the nominee for a new civic party, TEAM for a Livable Vancouver.
The other candidates are the incumbent mayor, Mr. Stewart; park-board commissioner John Coupar, for the Non-Partisan Association; businessman Ken Sim, with the newly created A Better City; and political consultant Mark Marissen, with the newly created Progress Vancouver.
Ms. Carr said she had been supportive of Mr. Stewart until last fall, when he cast the deciding vote against a move to charge most residents a minimum of $45 a year for any vehicle they parked on city streets. The parking fee was one of the first policy proposals that came out of the city’s climate plan, which discourages the use of gas-powered vehicles in favour of public transit, walking, bicycles or electric cars. The measure’s defeat deprived the city of as much as $68-million over four years, which would have been used for climate-change initiatives.
Ms. Carr said she and many other Vancouver voters were disappointed in the mayor’s vote, which she saw as a turning point.
“Can I count on him? I don’t think so,” she said. “And it was unnecessary for him to vote that way.”
She later proposed an amendment to the city’s budget that included a tax increase aimed at replacing the money the parking fees would have provided. Mr. Stewart voted in favour of it and it passed.
Mr. Stewart has defended his vote on the parking proposal several times since then, saying that he thought the permit system would penalize low-income and working people and that the city’s approach to the parking issue must be equitable.
Ms. Carr said she and her party are weighing many factors, including the fact that Mr. Stewart has already raised $1-million for his campaign and has access to extensive voter lists. And then there’s the vote-splitting issue.
“I think it’s foolish to ignore the possibility of vote-splitting, but I’m having to weigh it against the possibility of offering voters a choice they don’t really have,” Ms. Carr said.
The same kind of reasoning was behind Ms. Hardwick’s decision to enter the race as a centre-right candidate. She will be competing against three other parties to the right of Mr. Stewart – including the NPA, which was her party before she quit it last year.
“If I felt that any of the other candidates could accomplish the reset that the city required, I’d be supporting them,” Ms. Hardwick said. She has pledged to redo the city’s housing plans, tackle crime and disorder, and bring in more disciplined budgets. “But I don’t see anyone that fully understands the problems, let alone how to fix them.”
Some members of the public, including former NPA council candidate Michael Geller, have suggested the four mayoral hopefuls from the centre-right have a runoff and choose one candidate voters could line up behind if they don’t want Mr. Stewart.
But the candidates say that’s not going to happen.
Both Mr. Marissen and Mr. Coupar said they think the mayoral picture will become clearer in the coming months, which will make it easier for voters to identify the strongest candidate to beat Mr. Stewart in the Oct. 15 election.
Mr. Marissen said he thinks the differences between candidates will show up in debates, while Mr. Coupar said the NPA, a party that has existed for 70 years, is strong and will ultimately prevail.
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