The byelection results for the one seat open on Vancouver’s city council are in. As feared, the NPA candidate, Hector Bremner, won as a result of the progressive vote being split. To my disappointment, this means that my favourite city councillor, Adriane Carr, must continue without anyone on council to second her motions so they can be debated. But to my pleasant surprise, Jean Swanson did very well, coming in second.
COPE decided not to run a candidate and, instead, endorsed Jean as a unity candidate. Had either Vision Vancouver or One City done the same and stood behind Jean, she would have won. Jean obtained 10,263 votes, placing her short of victory. The One City candidate obtained 6,327 votes, well ahead of the Vision candidate, who only obtained 5,411 votes. Add either of these vote totals to Jean’s and she would have comfortably defeated Hector.
What lessons can we learn from this byelection? Clearly, Jean’s campaign was the most energetic. By speaking directly to the issue of housing she was able to mobilize a volunteer base throughout the entire city. I was particularly attracted to her mansion tax proposal.
The last time an independent candidate did better than Jean did and actually won an election in Vancouver was when Carole Taylor was successful in 1986. My crystal ball tells me that this byelection will not be the last time we will hear from Jean. Perhaps she will run again in one year in the 2018 general election; perhaps she and her supporters will create a new party.
Only time will tell.