Opinion Column

Vancouver election a name game


You will expect me to discuss the late election. Well, as nearly as I can learn, we did not have enough votes on our side. - Herbert Hoover, U.S. president 1929-1933

Every election provides lessons for parties and candidates - sometimes very painful ones.

Vancouver's civic election on Saturday was particularly educational.

First lesson - Vancouver voters like centrist government that works.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver received an enormous vote of confidence in sweeping every seat they contested - mayor, council, school and park board.

Robertson, who I support, continues a tradition of centre-left mayors, like Larry Campbell and Mike Harcourt.

The Non-Partisan Association's mayoralty candidate Suzanne Anton ignored that fact and ran a right-wing "common sense" campaign, which obviously wasn't sensible.

Second lesson - your good name - and its alphabetical order - matters.

The NPA won two seats - with George Affleck - the first name on the lengthy council ballot - and Elizabeth Ball getting the nod.

No matter how illogical, voters definitely favour last names near the top of the alphabet.

Third lesson - name recognition counts. Green Party council winner Adrianne Carr's name is more familiar than that of many councillors, thanks to running eight times, including as provincial Green leader.

Conversely - or perversely - Coalition Of Progressive Electors members gave up their safest seat by refusing to nominate well-known councillor David Cadman. Instead, the party put hard-left ex-councillor Tim Louis on its ticket with promising but unknown newcomer R.J. Aquino and incumbent Ellen Woodsworth, the latter coming in 92 votes behind Carr in 11th. Louis and Aquino finished far back, in 17th and 20th respectively.

Fourth lesson - party name matters - and it doesn't.

Carr's Green teammates - park board incumbent Stuart Mackinnon and school board candidate Louise Boutin - both lost badly despite Carr's win.

But Vision was the magic word helping elect newcomers Tony Tang to council, Cherie Payne and Rob Wynen to school board and Niki Sharma and Trevor Loke to park board.

However, COPE sadly discovered its name was synonymous with defeat, losing all but COPE school trustee Allan Wong's seat.

Fifth lesson - attack ads work. While voters say they hate nasty politics, the NPA secured two council, three school board and two park board seats and might have added two more councillors.

Last lesson - doing a good job still always beats going negative. Just ask the mayor.

Read more from Bill Tieleman at thetyee.ca Email: weststar@telus.net Website: billtieleman.blogspot.com