Delta Mayor Lois Jackson bookended by CUPE BC President Barry O'Neil and a member of Delta's finest
A couple of years ago, Metro Vancouver Chair Lois Jackson had the political scare of her life. Former City Councillor and Vancouver mayoral candidate Peter Ladner challenged her mid-term for the position of Chair. In the end, thanks to a tie-breaking vote cast by Vision Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson, Jackson held on to her grip as the head of the powerful regional government.
After her narrow victory, it was quietly speculated that Jackson would step aside after her term ended in 2008, and she would make room for some new blood. A number of her colleagues have both publicly and privately criticized her leadership style for years. It was for that reason that Ladner thought she was vulnerable when he took a run at her in 2007.
A news release was issued from Metro Vancouver last week pronouncing that Chair Jackson was back for yet another term, and she was appointing a myriad of city politicians to various committees. No word of her retirement, or any challenge to her leadership.
As was rightfully pointed out by the Georgia Straight, Jackson all but shut out Vancouver, the largest city in the region, from any appointments. Former Councillor George Puil was the last elected official from Vancouver to hold the position of Chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional District [now known as Metro Vancouver]. He was elected to that post in 2001.
Her public snubbing of Vancouver is but one good reason why Jackson should step aside for the good of the region. Her handling of the $605 million water filtration plant fiasco on Vancouver's North Shore is another.
But who should replace her and begin collecting that $50K stipend? As a newly elected Mayor that's still finding his way around Vancouver City Hall, clearly Gregor Robertson is in no position to take the helm. Perhaps in 2011 if he is re-elected as Mayor.
So that leaves only one viable candidate that would likely receive the unanimous endorsement from the region's elected officials. That person is none other than Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
I've known Mayor Watts for a number of years, and she would make for an excellent Chair of Metro Vancouver. She is a consensus builder, and unlike Mayor Jackson, she would come to the table with fresh ideas and a new perspective. In particular, I think Watts would play an effective leadership role in helping Metro Vancouver weather the current economic storm.
More importantly, Mayor Watts can get her calls returned when she dials up the Office of the Prime Minister or Premier of BC. I doubt this is the case with the current Chair as she is a staunch political opponent of both the provincial and federal governments.
Will Lois step aside quietly? Likely not. Despite her pronouncements of last week, the time has come for the region's elected officials to tap Jackson on the shoulder and tell her that her best before date has now expired.
Perhaps it's time that voters in the Metro Vancouver Region have the right to vote for their next Chair? More on that in an upcoming post.