John Furlong (l), CEO of the 2010 Winter Olympics with Federal Minister of Sport Gary Lunn
As the number of people dissatisfied with the current Vision administration seems to grow daily, the one question on people's mind is "if not Mayor Gregor, then who?" With the NPA in sleep mode, armchair political pundits are throwing around a number of names as possible mayoral candidates including Carole Taylor, Arthur Griffiths and Tung Chan. Any one of these individuals would give Gregor a run for his money, with Taylor being a virtual shoe-in if she decided to take the plunge.
Increasingly, however, another name seems to be making it to the top of the podium. The person I am referring to is the ever-popular John Furlong, CEO of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Games. Not only is Furlong admired in every corner of the city, he has a number of things going in his favour if he wants to make a bid for mayor in 2011.
Right off the top, Furlong is still relatively a young man. I suspect that by 2011, he probably has at least two civic terms in him if he really wanted to go that far. He also has a very high profile and name recognition with the public, which in civic politics is worth its weight in gold.
Having been the CEO of the Olympics for so many years, he also knows every nook and cranny of Vancouver better than most city engineers. Therefore, the learning curve would be minimal.
Post March 2010, Furlong will also be basking in what will be considered one of the most successful Olympic Games ever held. Much of that credit will be attributed to its CEO, who despite all the odds, was able to keep his dynamic team together without any major scandals or disruptions. This is an incredible feat worthy of an Olympic medal unto itself.
If Furlong were to decide to throw his hat in the ring for Mayor of Vancouver, he would have no problem raising the kind of money needed to run a successful campaign. His "star" power would also be a real draw to attract the kind of talented individuals that council sorely lacks at the moment. Furlong's oratory skills and ability to motivate are also off the charts.
Another big positive for Furlong is that he appeals to both the left and right of the political spectrum. In many ways, you could consider him the ultimate "non-partisan" candidate. His track record of securing big dollars from senior levels of government to build a number of world-class facilities also demonstrates his inter-governmental relations skills.
As for his "green" track record, Furlong committed that he would run the most enviro-friendly Games ever. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote in VANOC's sustainability report back in 2007/2008:
We have completed our inventory of carbon emissions and are consolidating our carbon reduction efforts. We will be announcing our Carbon Management Program and hope it will help inspire all those touched by our Games to also take responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint.
So far Furlong has been coy about his future prospects post-Olympics. He has indicated he will take a few months off and head out to the cabin for a well-deserved bit of rest and relaxation.
Most doubt that his trip to the countryside will last very long and that he will be back in the spotlight before you can say His Worship. If he were to announce sometime next summer that he planned on running for mayor, he would have 12 months to mount a very credible campaign.
At what point the folks I'm talking to actually make a formal proposition to Furlong is yet unknown, but rest assured it's bound to happen. If Furlong were to throw his hat in the ring, it would clearly be his election to lose.
Electing John Furlong as Mayor would also be a fitting tribute by the citizens of Vancouver for a man who dedicated himself to successfully putting the city on the world stage. We'll keep you posted if we hear anything more concrete from the elusive group of individuals volunteering on the Recruit John Furlong for Mayor Ad-Hoc Committee.
Answer the CityCaucus.com Poll Question! Which of the following individuals do you think would stand the best chance of defeating Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in 2011?
Update: The Vancouver Sun writes a great opinion piece on John Furlong's performance as CEO