With the recent poll results showing Mayor Gregor Robertson's approval ratings falling faster than the temperature on Baffin Island this month, it's natural for people to begin looking around for just whom may want to take over from him after the 2011 civic election. The stakes are high as the term of the next civic government will be four years, not the traditional three.
The one name that comes up fairly regularly is popular NPA city councillor Suzanne Anton. She is the sole candidate to survive the disastrous 2008 civic election campaign which featured NPA mayoral candidate Peter Ladner vs. Gregor Robertson.
While Anton possesses many good qualities and is widely considered as a bright, community-minded city councillor, I don't think she should make a run for the mayoral spot in 2011. If she is truly interested in getting the NPA elected to government next year, she should work with the NPA Board and throw her weight behind "an outsider" who stands a fighting chance of victory.
By announcing she is running again, Anton would stand a very good chance of re-election to council. Therefore, the NPA would "only" need to gain 5 council seats to win a majority. The addition of only 3 seats would serve to eliminate Vision's "super" majority - something which is required for key financial votes.
I'm told several promising candidates are being considered to run for mayor on the NPA's ticket next year, however, the "Anton factor" continues to linger over their head. With Anton declaring she's not running to become Her Worship, the decks would be cleared to attract a worthy opponent to Robertson. It would also help to give some focus to fundraising efforts and volunteer recruitment by the NPA.
But time is running out and Anton will have to make her intentions known soon. I haven't been able to confirm it with her directly, but I suspect that is about to happen in the not too distant future. The perfect opportunity for her to do so would be by announcing that she will put her name forward as a council candidate in the NPA's upcoming November nominations.
A new mayoral candidate with some political acumen, streets smarts and populist appeal could easily topple what I thought was a sure thing for Vision in 2011. If they can build a strong coalition of federal Liberals & Conservatives with a smattering of centre-left/Green leaning candidates, they may well appeal to a broad enough voter base to secure a win.
If the NPA's mayoral candidate promises Vancouver voters they will put an end to the current divide & conquer politics and will truly consult neighbourhoods on the future direction of the city, they could surely win favour with the broader public. After three long years of not being listened to, having ideology trump good public policy, and witnessing the politicization of the public service and loss of so many key leaders therein, voters will be looking for change at 12th & Cambie.
Vancouver is more than simply a green city. It should also be inclusive, consultative and competitive. It should also be playing a strong leadership role in a region that is increasingly being impacted by suburban sprawl and a lack of transit. The NPA's slate of candidates will have to address these issues, and more.
While Anton may not like or take my advice, I hope that her cycling trip from Paris to Prague this summer was her equivalent of a walk in the snow. I think she's smart enough to realize that only an outside candidate gives her a fighting chance of not remaining the Maytag Repair Man after the next election.
- post by Daniel