Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tieleman's picks for Vision Vancouver council, school and park board candidates

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday September 16, 2008

Vancouver vote a big one for future


In the television age, the key distinction is between the candidate who can speak in poetry and the one who can only speak in prose.

- Richard M. Nixon

While the three-ring circus known as the federal election rages on, this Saturday, another vote could determine Vancouver's future for years.

With 16,000 members, Vision Vancouver is Canada's largest civic political party and will choose candidates for city council, school and park board to compete with the Non-Partisan Association in November, as Vision's Gregor Robertson challenges the NPA's Peter Ladner for mayor.

Here's who I'll be voting for Saturday.

Council - 8

Vision Vancouver's councillors have done an excellent job holding Mayor Sam Sullivan's NPA majority to account. Raymond Louie, Heather Deal, George Chow and Tim Stevenson all deserve to be re-nominated.

Vision is fortunate in having to choose four more council candidates (an agreement gives the Coalition of Progressive Electors two candidates) from many well-qualified individuals. But these four show the poetry to win.

Andrea Reimer - The former Green Party Vancouver school trustee is a well-known environmentalist with amazing energy.

Geoff Meggs - Executive assistant to popular former mayor Larry Campbell, Meggs knows Vancou-ver and city hall. His background in labour and running his own business gives him skills the city needs.

Heather Harrison - An academic and environmentalist, Harrison came just short of joining council last election, she could win this time.

Kerry Jang - the University of B.C. psychiatry professor is knowledgeable and concerned about those with mental illnesses who are left on our streets.

School Board - 4

Sharon Gregson - More than any other candidate, Vancouver School Board trustee Gregson stands out as someone Vision needs to nominate. A tireless advocate for children and parents, a recognized national expert on child care, Gregson is Vision's only VSB incumbent.

Regrettably, some have criticized her competitive firearm target shooting hobby - which has nothing to do with her impressive record at the VSB, like winning the support of former NPA trustee Eleanor Gregory.

Patti Bacchus - A longtime advocate for students with disabilities who has served on the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council, Bacchus.

Mike Lombardi - A former teacher who also worked for the B.C. Teachers' Federation, Lombardi's background will make a difference.

Narinder Chhina - A business owner, Chhina is also active in multicultural organizations.

Park Board - 4

Aaron Jasper - The energetic West End Residents Association's Director has been an effective advocate for that neighbourhood.

Constance Barnes - A community activist with a strong arts and culture background.

Raj Hundal - One of Vision's first directors, Hundal is active with Vancouver's cultural and immigrant communities.

Sarah Blyth - A young mother who helped form the Skateboard Coalition.
Tough to make choices but Vancouver voters are the real winners.


Anonymous said...

Super column! Absolutely right on target. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Evidently neither of you were at the school board debate. Any random spectator would have spoken better than Chhina, who was a one-note rant about class wars.

i care about education said...

Bill you know perfectly well that Sharon Gregson is not criticized for "her competitive firearm target shooting hobby" but for her public advocacy for the right to carry concealed weapons.

Anonymous said...

Your Council picks seem awfully whitebread to me. Heather Harrison over Kashmir Dhaliwal or Rey Umlas? And what of David Eby, as the conscience of a new majority Vision Council?

For School Board, Helesia Luke seems to have all the momentum. Patti Bacchus is a great pick. It's all very well and good to sing Sharon Gregson's praises, but she doesn't have a hope in hell of winning a nomination (because of her advocacy work around firearms).

On Park Board, though, you got it exactly right. More power to Aaron Jasper, Sarah Blyth, Constance Barnes and Raj Hundal.

Anonymous said...

For some reason in 2005 Heather Harrison finished almost 5000 votes behind the other four Vision council candidates who all had similar vote totals. Is there some reason why Vision voters would like her less than the other four? We can't blame vote splitting given the 2005 VISION/COPE accomodation.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to have seen less whitebread slates as well to represent the city's diversity but Chhina's east side vs west side class war and the suggestion that we ban cross-boundary enrolment should be raising all sorts of warning flags at Vision HQ.

The NPA would love to write the whole Vision enterprise off based on such "scary" and heavy-handed "nutbar" ideas. If Chhina is chosen to represent Vision, rest assured that much political hay will be made of this issue. It's unfortunate that the only real ethnic candidate so quickly disqualified himself, but better now than later, I suppose!

We have so many terrific Indo-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian (and Filipino, Vietnamese, etc...) parents working within Vancouver at the PAC volunteer level who would have made great candidates - it's a real pity that Vision did not put more effort into recruiting them.

Anonymous said...

If Vision Vancouver wants to pick up a council seat, Harrison is a good bet. She's a team player, helped build Vision over the past three years and is high profile and electable. Vision needs to think about nominating candidates who can actually win in November.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

I am a little taken aback by your school board picks. I don't recall seeing you at the meetings where the various candidates spoke.

Here's my four for school board:
Bacchus, Luke, Lombardi, and Vdovine (see my reasons here.

We need people on school board who know the issues, understand the complexity of the issues, and who will go beyond simplistic attacks.

If you want to get a sense of what really happened at the Vision debate you are welcome to take a look at my blog were I describe the event.

Anonymous said...

anons are always an interesting bunch. Some show up as rah rah folks and against others. why not just pick a name and use it, that way we still don't who they are but it does mean each person has just one monicker.

Otis Krayola said...

I know Sharon Gregson personally. It's hard to imagine a more thoughtful, articulate advocate for children. But if she's nominated on Saturday, I'll be leaving her off my ballot in November because of her stance regarding concealed, anti-personnel sidearms.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the many comments and no doubt more to come.

I am surprised that some posters have suggested that Sharon Gregson - the most articulate and passionate opposition trustee on the Vancouver School Board - should be dismissed because she has exercised her right to free speech on issues that have no connection to her work on behalf of children.

Charles Menzies, if you check his blog, suggests he would vote for Non-Partisan Association trustee Carol Gibson, part of the NPA majority that has cut programs and rolled over to the BC Liberals on education issues.

That's Charles' right but I find his advice on who to vote for at the Vision nomination rather suspect as a result.

Otis Krayola - great pen name by the way! - praises Sharon but then trashes her.

Let's be clear - I may or may not agree with all of her positions but she is entitled to hold views of her own without it impacting her ability to serve the community and our children and schools. I find it reprehensible that progressive voters would attempt to throw her off the ticket not because she is incompetent or inexperienced or ineffective but because they dislike her position on unconnected issues.

I'm also disappointed that some posters think I've chosen a "whitebread" slate her - far from it.

I've tried to carefully balance my endorsements and have paid absolutely no attention to the many backroom deals for support that are obviously going on.

It's important that the Chinese-Canadian and Indo-Canadian communities have representation and it's also important that Vision nominate candidates with the experience, ability and name recognition to win in November.

I appreciate that not everyone will agree with my choices and I am very sincere in saying that Vision has an embarrassment of riches to choose from this election.

There are many superb candidates among those who I have not endorsed and I admire everyone who has put their name forward for public service - it's not easy and one of the downsides is having people like me decide in public whether to support you.

But my role as a commentator and someone who has been involved in politics for many years is to make my own judgment and explain my reasons.

Your role is to make your own decision based on all the information available.

Good luck and keep up the comments - this is a democracy and we should cherish this right.

Anonymous said...

As a minority myself, I'm all for representation. What I do not support is Palin-esque rhetoric for minority neophyte candidates at the expense of others who are more qualified, knowledgeable and experienced.

If Chhina is nominated, leaving Luke or Bacchus on the outside, the backroom boys club will have done their job - and I will tear up my Vision membership.

I'm not even touching council...

Peter Shaw

Anonymous said...

Bill, I also endorsed Jane Bouey, Bill Bargemen, and Alan Wong of COPE and Ken Clement of Vision. You are right that it is my 'choice' to give Carol Gibson a nod -of all the trustees she has in fact been one of the strongest trustees for working on and for the local issues that parents and grassroots people with a real stake in education have been concerned about.

Part of the problem with political punditry is that it is often based from the heights without direct involvement in the ongoing and often boring issues of the everyday. Having known you since the student activist days of the early 1980s I know that you and I have shared a strong commitment to organized political left parties. Nonetheless, the difference in the education realm is that I am directly involved in the everyday grassroots working of our K-12 education system -from the daily volunteering in schools through to the details of discussions around what may seem as arcane policy debates to others. From this vantage I have seen how trustees have worked for over twelve years up front and personal. I've had a chance to see who they respond to community members in private and in public. And, it is from that basis that I also "make my judgment and explain my reason."

So, if Carol Gibson makes my evaluations 'suspect' then I guess it makes my support of Bouey, Bargemen, Wong and Clement also suspect as well as calling into question two of the people that you endorsed for school board ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, what Vision is presenting is just same old, same old. All typical Vancouver political wannabees.

Campbell (the former mayor) sold out Vancouver for a senate seat and we are just getting more of the same 'me first' Vancouver light weights.

There is a storm brewing to the east as Fraser Valley residents are beginning to wake up to the fact they are subsidizing Vancouver's infrastructure, with their tax money. Vancouver and its citizens are no longer the centre of the universe as this current lot believes.

Anonymous said...

Well said Bill. Vision does have a lot of talent in their candidates trying to get on the ticket. The NPa seem to keep dragging up the new generation of Bernice Gerards. They seem to be of the opinion that NPP has a God given right to control city hall. I watched Nathen Devinski, a sharp professor and chess expert, taling on a motion and was solidly for it as he had raised it, then the silly peron ended up voting aginst his own motion. Go Vision Go. We unfortunatly no longer live in Vancouver so can't vote, but still take great interest in the goings on in our old town Our son lives there and is redy to vote for gregor. Why? Well partly because Sam made a mess of the strike and he is a inside worker. The NPa has always been the farm team of the old socreds and now the new socreds

Unknown said...

Bill Tielman seems to have overlooked some extremely qualified candidates, especially at the school board.
Helesia Luke is a strong advocate for parents and a champion of public education.
She has more than 18 years experience in Parent Advisory Councils. She was a founding member of Save Our Schools, the BC Society for Public Education (and co-author of the Society’s Secondary Schools Tracking Survey), and Vancouver’s Public Education Project.

She has shown exceptional leadership for parents, and is well respected in the public education arena.
I believe the citizens of Vancouver deserve a trustee who will champion public education.

Anonymous said...

I would choose David Eby over Geoff Meggs - Meggs may be a city hall insider but that doesn't make him electable in November, nor is it necessarily a compelling reason to nominate him when the current council members also have strong city hall backgrounds. Eby, on the other hand, is known outside of city hall, is less open to being smeared by Ladner as an NDP operative, and would bring a non-background perspective.

One other thing, Aaron Jasper is not WERA's Director, he is one of nine WERA directors - WERA is a collaborative group of volunteers, not a one-person show (though Aaron will make a great Park Board commissioner).

Anonymous said...

"Gregson has just been granted a permit to carry a concealed handgun in the U.S. and has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking why she can't have the same right in Canada."

GertrudeS said...

Not sure how Bill can say that the gun thing and the school thing are 2 unreleated topics. Have you read a paper or watched the news regarding the latest school shootings in Toronto...you don't need a concealed weapon to target shoot or participate in competitions. A cover girl advocate of carrying concealed weapons does not belong on a School Board. Unfortunately her private activities are so antithetical to anything most people in this country agree witih that they over shadow everything else...I guess if she had kept it to herself it may have been another storey.

kootcoot said...

I'm pleased to hear of the proposed co-operative approach that I understand Vision, Cope and the Greens are going to take in running the carpetbaggers out of Vancouver City Hall.

If only Gilles, Stephane and Jack could be so sensible, we wouldn't have to have this election and Steve "Please Leave" Harper already wouldn't be able to pretend to be Prime Minister of the American colony of Canada.

Anonymous said...

Its going to be interesting to see who will finish in 9th and 10th place and thus be excluded from the VISION slate thanks to the idiotic agreement with COPE.
VISION is a coalition, and limiting the coalition to eight slots increases the chances that certain elements of the coalition will be excluded. Will the VISION coalition be able to survive if that happens,

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of Tieleman's choices. Good job.

Sharon Gregson does have a questionable position with firearms but personal issues such as those, I suspect, will not have much weight in school board decisions. It is her experience which will count for much more. Although, it is interesting to see what will happen in that case.

I think that Narinder Chhina isn't the "nutbar" some have stated him as. English being his second language and not having experience public speaking he looked very nervous. Ideas sometimes become "lost in translation" without enough time to discuss and revisit them as is often the case during a public debate. He has been a part of Vision for a number of years and I have seen him helping with various outreach events.

So, I think Vision did know who they were endorsing as he brings with him a great deal of community experience.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with most of Tieleman's choices. Good job.

Sharon Gregson does have a questionable position with firearms but personal issues such as those, I suspect, will have much weight in school board decisions. It is interesting to see what will happen in that case.

I think that Narinder Chhina is the "nutbar" some have stated him as. Ideas sometimes become "lost in translation" even with enough time to discuss and revisit them as is often the case during a public debate. He has been a part of Vision for a number of years and shouldn't be rewarded for it.

So, I think Vision didn't who they were endorsing.

Anonymous said...

So much for my comment above about Sharon Gregson not having a "hope in hell" of securing a Vision Vancouver School Board nomination. Such a big win, 800 votes in front of her closest competitor. Doesn't mean to say that I'm not a little verklempt about Helesia Luke losing out on a nomination, but she was near the bottom of the vote-getters - who's to know?

As for Council: Chow, Deal, Louie, Stevenson, Reimer, Dhaliwal, Jang, Meggs. Pretty much what you'd expect, although I'm surprised at Stevenson's solid vote (given what I heard during voting day), and disappointed Eby wasn't one of the 8, although he was close. Still and all, nice balanced slate.

Park Board candidates, Blyth, Barnes, Jasper, Hundal ... I feel heartened (although, I'm surprised Sarah came in first, Constance second, and Aaron third ... would have thought Aaron would have been first ... again, who knows?).