Municipal Politics

Gregor Robertson Not Seeking Re-election for Vancouver Mayor

Just four months after announcing he would run, Vision Vancouver incumbent bows out of fall municipal elections

By Katie Hyslop 10 Jan 2018 |

Katie Hyslop is The Tyee’s education and youth reporter. Find her previous stories here.

With 10 straight years in office, Gregor Robertson was on track to take the title of Vancouver’s longest serving mayor if he won the Oct. 20 municipal election.

Vancouver’s 14th mayor, Louis D. Taylor, served 11 years non-consecutively.

But Robertson took himself pre-emptively out of the running today, a week in advance of his Vision Vancouver party’s annual general meeting, with an announcement that his 10th year would be his last.

“It’s been the greatest honour of my life to serve this extraordinary city, and help make Vancouver an inspiration to people and cities around the world. Thank you for this opportunity, for your constant feedback and your support,” Robertson said in a press release issued by Vision this afternoon.

Former Vision Vancouver school board chair and trustee Mike Lombardi was among the first slate of Vision candidates to sweep into power along with Robertson in 2008.

“I’m sad for the city of Vancouver, but I totally understand,” Lombardi told the Tyee, adding the job of mayor is incredibly tough because of its long hours and list of responsibilities. “I want to thank him for his service.”

The move came as a surprise to many, considering Robertson announced his intention to run again just four months ago.

But Mike Klassen wasn’t surprised. A former council candidate for the Non Partisan Association, Vision’s main political rivals, Klassen predicted the end for Robertson in a column for the Vancouver Courier in October 2016.

“I talked a lot about how politicians kind of reach their best before date at the 10-year mark,” Klassen said, citing former premier Gordon Campbell and former prime ministers Stephen Harper, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien as examples.

“Do 10 years and usually people want you to go. And I think he had that working against him, and it was hard not to notice the grumbling that you saw, particularly online.”

Robertson is not the first Vision council member to announce he won’t be running again: Coun. Andrea Reimer announced last year that she won’t be running for another term.

There’s no word on who will replace Robertson as the mayoral candidate, though deputy mayor Raymond Louie and councillors Heather Deal and Kerry Jang are rumoured to be contenders, but have yet to announce their election intentions.

The Tyee reached out to Louie, Jang and former Vision school board chair Patti Bacchus for comment, as well as Green Party Coun. Adrienne Carr and current school board chair Janet Fraser, but did not hear back by publication time.

Lombardi wouldn’t comment on who he thought might run for mayor in Robertson’s stead, but predicts “interesting developments both in terms of who will run and policy developments” in the next few months.

“There’s going to be a lot of new players in the game,” he said, adding he isn’t sure if he will run again for school board, but will campaign for whoever the new Vision leader is in the upcoming election.

“Ten years is a long time in politics, and it sounds like there will be some renewal in Vision and the other electoral parties, and I think that’s good.”

A long-time critic of Robertson and Vision on the council-watching blog, Klassen acknowledged Vision managed to accomplish much of what it set out to achieve when it first swept council, park board and school board elections in 2008.

“They had a very robust plan, a political platform, that they campaigned on. And I actually opened it up last summer, and I was quite surprised that they had actually done almost everything they said they were going to do in that document,” he said.

“They deserve credit for sticking to their knitting as far as it goes in what they said they were going to do, whether you support it or not.”

Klassen doesn’t believe the NPA is a shoe-in for the mayoral seat. “They’re going to have to show that they have people who are prepared to represent the complex makeup of the city,” he said. But he suspects voters will lean centre right in the upcoming election.

“I’ve called it the Yin Yang Theory of B.C. Politics: whenever you have a centre left government in Victoria, you tend to have a bit of an opposite reaction from municipal politics in Vancouver,” he said, citing the election of left-leaning Mayor Larry Campbell, shortly after the election of the right-leaning Gordon Campbell as premier in 2002.  [Tyee]

Read more: Municipal Politics

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