A Milestone, of sorts

Earlier this week, the NPA launched their new website for the fall 2011 civic election campaign. With this, I’ve reached a personal milestone: Over the past decade, I’ve built election campaign websites for each of the Vancouver civic parties – COPE in 2002, then Vision‘s in 2005 and now the NPA this year. I like to think it shows a professional non-partisan manner than is to be commended. You might say it’s pure capitalism at work (or worse yet that I’m a sell-out). Regardless of your opinion, given how entrenched political parties and their service providers seem to be, I’m quite proud that these various groups have all chose me &/or my company over the years to provide them with professional, quality web-related services.

For this latest project, we were purely the technical team – I’ll have no hand in the ongoing messaging or marketing. Design & project management was provided by our frequent collaborators at Myron Advertising + Design.

At the provincial level, this year I’ve also completed the BC trifecta: I’ve built sites for each of the BC Liberals, BC NDP, and waaaay back in the 90s, the BC Green Party.

So I’m an experienced campaign website builder. If you need a website for your campaign, let me know.

The Think City/Dream Vancouver debate

Last night, I attended the Think City / Dream Vancouver city councillors debate at the Alice McKay room in Library Square (Full disclosure: I am a Dream Vancouver volunteer, and asked a pre-scripted question at last night’s debate. I was also an unsuccessful Vision Vancouver Park Board nominee).

The debate was, to me, surprisingly well attended – probably near 200 people, and a fantastic mixture of youth and …umm… older adults were present. The debate was moderated by Kera McArthur (of Dream Vancouver) and Charlie Smith (of the Georgia Straight). The participating candidates were Ellen Woodsworth of COPE, Michael Gellar of the NPA and Geoff Meggs of Vision Vancouver). The questions were divided into 3 sections: housing, civic engagement and transportation.

The housing section produced by far the most energetic debate between the 3, as there are some clear differences, mostly in approach as opposed to goals, between the 3 parties. Of note: The NPA (or at least Michael Gellar, as he seemed to contradict the NPA party line numerous times throughout the night, and indeed, took the time to distance himself from the current NPA to what he was calling the new NPA) oppose building shelter beds as, if I understood correctly, actually not being helpful in the long run. Vision supports building emergency shelter beds as a short term solution, but maybe not in Storyeum. COPE likewise wants to build emergency shelter beds, and wants to see if Little Mountain can be used while its waiting for redevelopment.

When it came to civic engagement, they all more or less agreed: there needs to be a change in how accessible councillors are and how the consultation process is handled. They all did not want an arm’s-length office of consultation, as it would add a layer between the public and council. I personally feel that they were missing the point of what this office’s role would be, but it seems there will not be one. The debate aboute finance and electoral reform was more interesting: COPE supports a wards system. Vision wants to investigate, and strike a comittee, but not until the next election, and if I recall correctly, the NPA are also willing to investigate, but note that reform has already been defeated in a referendum. All three spoke well of the Berger report, but were essentially non-committal.

Transportation was the least interesting, although notable in that Michael Gellar seems quite removed from the stated platform of the NPA on the issue of the Burrard Bridge. COPE & Vision oppose Gateway, NPA supports it. All support improved cycling infrastructure, and pilots on physically seperating cyclists and motor vehicles. Vision would support a rental-based city-wide bicycle program, COPE would like a free one.

Overall, here’s my feeling on how the individual councillors did:

  • Ellen Woodsworth seemed somewhat out of her league here. She was hesitant, and to be honest, seemed a little pie-in-the-sky to my tastes. However, she earns major brownie points (and probably my vote) for clearly and explicitly placing gender issues as a part of every single discussion, and it seems clear to me that she would be an eloquent champion for womens’ issues in council.
  • Michael Gellar is highly entertaining, and would be a good, hard-working councillor I believe. However, he comes across as a pompous, privileged white male who has no idea that he is indeed, that. His casual references to travel locals, meetings with various other players all reinforced this. He also took an inexcusable, unecessary dig at Vancouver’s city workers, which, were there any justice, would cost him any chance at being elected, despite his attempts to later back-pedal. I do believe, in his defence, that it sounded much worse than he meant given his expression just after speaking (he immediately blushed, looked down and was still – the only time of the night he was not highly animated).
  • Geoff Meggs is a policy wonk. He knows his stuff, he’s cautious about speaking to things he’s unsure of. He toes the Vision party line very well. I believe he’s passionate about what he believes in. That being said, he is a very dry speaker, and doesn’t communicate his excitement very well. He also, and this is the most important, I believe, clearly has a lot of experience in how the city works, how to interact with the media, and community consultation. He would make a highly effective, if possibly somewhat hidden-behind-the-scenes city councillor.

I’m hopeful that Think City will post either an audio or video of the debate up online sometime soon, so that you may all see it. As a last note, I think that the councillors are probably far more important to the running of the city than the mayor, given that, in reality, the mayor is just one more vote on council – so be sure to read  up on the council candidates, and if you can, attend other debates featuring them.

The Results are in…

… and I lost. Really, really, really lost. I came in last place in the voting.

However, I was so thrilled by the whole experience, I can say with some certainty that I’ll do this again in three years. And hopefully then, I’ll know a little more from this time, I’ll be a little more organized, and the results will be significantly better.

My many thanks to everyone who supported me, to everyone who voted for me, and for everyone’s encouragement during this.

I’m not entirely sure what’ll happen to this blog in the short term – I’ll probably revert to my tannock.net domain as primary, and will redesign. But I suspect that local politics will remain a more common presence in the posts here.


My Slate

This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve had to write, as it’s the time where I choose some friends over others in whom I’ll support, and whom I’m asking my friends and supporters to support as well. For those not selected – with a field this talented, it was inevitable some very talented people will be left off – if you’re curious as to why I chose someone else over you, please just email or call me, and I’m happy to talk you through my decision making process. Nominate these people on September 20th at Charles Tupper School.

City Council (8 Candidates)

  • George Chow – has done an excellent job these past years, I look forward to seeing what he can do with a majority.
  • Heather Deal – another incumbent who deserves re-election, she, to me, has been the most effective councilor for Vision these past three years.
  • David Eby – His passion and articulateness in dealing with serious issues have won him my support.
  • Heather Harrison – she was oh-so-close last time, and has real credibility on sustainability initiatives.
  • Raymond Louie – He was my choice for mayoral candidate, and I think he’ll be an excellent councillor still.
  • Kerry Jang – an academic with expertise and care in dealing with community mental health issues; I feel he and David Eby together round an excellent slate to help deal with the homeless and mental health crisis in vancouver
  • Andrea Reimer – An environmentalist with ridiculous amounts of energy and solid credibility.
  • Tim Stevenson – I love his slightly ‘rogue’ persona, not to mention the incredible service he’s done over the past years as a councillor.

Park Board (4 Candidates)

  • Constance Barnes – I believe that she can speak both to family & arts issues on the parks board. She also has more energy than virtually anyone I know.
  • Sarah Blyth – a passionate advocate for youth and ‘alternative’ sports, she’s shown a clear ability to generate consensus and win people over to her point of view.
  • James Gill – I don’t believe there’s another candidate at any level who knows more about the process and arcana of the park board.
  • Steven Tannock – Who else did you expect? Nominate me to restore trust to the Park Board and to bring the communication & consultation process into the 21st century.

School Board (4 Candidates)

  • Patti Bacchus – A long time advocate for children with disabilities, she’ll bring passion and a deep understanding of the VSB from her time on the other side of the fence
  • Mike Lombardi – with amazing experience and a genuine likability, his experience and skills will be critical in consensus building
  • Helesia Luke – an author, and more of a policy-wonk than the others, she likewise has long experience on PACs and child-support activism.
  • Stepan Vdovine – Previously a Board member in Maple Ridge, Stepan is young, and his youthful energy and committment is required and should be encouraged. Despite his youth, his previous Board-member experience will be critical to help the others navigate the VSB,

My Closing Remarks

I somehow completely neglected to include my closing remarks from last Thursday’s Park Board All-Candidates Meeting. Without further ado, here they are:

I’d like to share with you a vision of the future, that with your help, we can achieve.

In my vision, every Community Centre runs a community garden or two, where they teach their neighbours how to grow food in their own yards. Much of this food is given to the foodbank. People sell their own produce through a community-run grower’s co-operative to supermarkets and restaurants throughout the city, sharing proceeds with the board and neighbours alike.

Children attend daycare that is the envy of the country, run in partnership with the School Board and our local colleges and universities. Older kids can learn to skate & ride in Park-Board-run skate & bike parks. Our senior citizens sit and read books with entranced children, in a veritable babel of languages, keeping our cultural diversity strong while integrating our elders firmly into the community.

Every community centre has a space where local artists can display and perform their work. Local musicians play all-ages-shows to raise money for the community centres & parks where they practiced long hours learning their instruments.

Let’s make our parks and community centres not just facilities, but the heart and soul of our communities.

On September 20th, nominate Steven Tannock.

Thank you.

My Opening Remarks

Last night was the Vision Vancouver Park Board All-Candidates Meeting, held at the Fletcher-Challenge Theatre, SFU Downtown. I believe it went well. For posterity, here is the written version of my opening remarks (not a transcript, as this was written beforehand, and I’m certain I didn’t relate this verbatim). My thanks to everyone who attended.

Good Evening Ladies & Gentlemen. My name is Steven Tannock.

I am a business owner and web developer. This may not seem like the most relevant experience for being a Park Board Commissioner, I know, but bear with me a moment here. Fundamentally, Web development is about communication, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I wish to talk to you about this evening.

How many of you here have attended a Park Board consultation meeting?

How many of you here WOULD have attended a consultation meeting, if you had heard about it?

Or still, how many of you here attended a consultation meeting, only to never receive any follow up communication, or any indication that you’d been heard at all?

The Park Board Consultation process is broken. The public has lost faith in the process, and by extension, the board itself. As I sat in on park board meetings this past year, this became starkly apparent as I listened to speakers, regardless of their stance on the issue:

“I didn’t hear about the meeting”
“I live in the neighborhood, where was my notice?”
“There was only one small sign – you call that notice?”
And so on.

As an exercise, try and find the status of any current park board project. Identify which councilors voted for, and which voted against the motion. Tell me the budget, hired vendors and the project timeline. It’s remarkably difficult. To learn about the English Bay Bistro, I needed to open 3 different web sites – and still the best information was found in the Vancouver Sun’s archives, not the Park Board’s own site.

As a stakeholder in every decision it makes affecting our parks & community centres, it is a conflict of interest for board and staff to also control how, when and where the consultation takes place. The Park Board needs an independent, arms-length Consultation office to oversee all three stages of community decision making: Notification, Consultation and perhaps, most importantly, Reporting. Only this will restore trust in the Park Board communication process.

On September 20th, please nominate me, Steven Tannock, so that I can fight to bring back the community in community consultation and decision-making.

Thank you.

Cooperative Agreement between COPE and Vision Executives

Cooperative Agreement between COPE and Vision Executives

(VANCOUVER) The COPE and Vision executives are announcing a tentative agreement for cooperation for the 2008 election. Both organizations feel that the agreement is an important step to create the kind of campaign that can return progressive government to city hall.

Members of both organizations have consistently sought a cooperative effort and the executives of both Vision Vancouver and COPE have endorsed an agreement that will see the following:

  1. COPE, Vision, and the Green Party have agreed to run less than a full slate of candidates for each level. The breakdown is as follows:
    • Mayor: Gregor Robertson
    • Council: 8 (Vision), 2 (COPE)
    • School Board: 5 (COPE), 4 (Vision)
    • Park Board: 4 (Vision), 2 (COPE), 1 (Green Party)
  2. Vision and COPE will cooperate around specific policy issues, including a strategy on homelessness.

“Vision Vancouver believes the issues in this upcoming election are too important to be ignored. With this agreement, we can work with COPE to maximize our chances to bring progressive government back to Vancouver,” said Mike Magee, co-chair of Vision Vancouver.

“It is crucial that we work together to return progressive government to city hall, park and school board, said COPE Councilor David Cadman. “We want to work with Gregor Robertson and Vision to cooperate around areas of common concern. With this agreement we can avoid splitting the progressive vote and create a better Vancouver.”

The cooperation agreement is subject to ratification by the COPE membership at their Sunday, September 14 policy conference.

I wholeheartedly endorse this agreement, and you should too, if you care about progressive policies for Vancouver.

Show your support by joining the Facebook group

Important Upcoming Events!

There’s a few key Vision Nomination events that you should all be aware of:

  1. If you are unable to vote on September 20th, there is an advance poll on September 15th. The deadline to register to vote in advance is September 10th. You can apply to vote in advance online at Vision Vancouver’s site
  2. This Thursday, September 11th is the Vision Vancouver Park Board all-candidate meeting. This is your only chance to hear each of the Park Board candidates speak before the nomination meeting. The details are as follows:
    Park Board all-candidates meeting
    Thursday, September 11th, 7pm
    Fletcher Challenge Theatre, SFU Downtown (515 W. Hastings)
    Admission is free, but a ticket is required. I have a handful of tickets left to hand out, so please email me if you would like one (hello at tannock dot net).
  3. Saturday, September 20th is the Vision Nomination Meeting. The details are as follows:
    Location: Sir Charles Tupper High School (419 East 24th)
    Hours: 10am – 7pm

A Challenge: Electoral Gender Parity

We all know that at this point, Vision Vancouver has an amazing set of potential candidates – at current count, we have 15 Council Candidates, 12 Park Board Candidates and 7 School Board Candidates. That’s a total of 34 candidates. However, there are a total of only 11 female candidates running for spots on the various components of municipal government. Breaking it down by board, there are 4 City Council, 4 School Board and 3 Park Board candidates who are women.

The United Nations says that a critical mass of at least 30% women is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions begin to change the way they do business (see more here , here (both PDFs) and here).
source: Equal Voice.

If I’m reading Frances‘ list correctly, the NPA have already nominated 4 women as City Council candidates, 3 as School Board candidates and 2 as Park Board candidates – meaning that they’ve already reached the magic (if we can say that magic = the minimum threshold) 30% mark for Council and School Board, and are one short of meeting that minimum threshold for Parks Board. Of course, the NPA has significantly less geographic, ethnic and age diversity than is present amongst the Vision nominees, and these considerations are also very important.

Reading the tea leaves for Vision, however, worries me – it strikes me as all too possible that the Vision Vancouver membership will end up nominating only one female candidate at each level. However, while the NPA can do very little at this point to change the make-up of their candidates, the door is wide open for Vision Vancouver to prove that not only is it the most ethnically and geographically diverse party, but it is also has understood and met the needs of gender equity.

So here’s my challenge to us all:

  • Vision Membership: You have the most important role to play in achieving a more balanced slate. Your votes will determine who represents our party in this fall’s municipal election. When deciding upon who to vote for, consider whether the list of nominees you are supporting includes women, and how the slate you’re choosing represents Vancouver’s gender balance, Vision’s progressive ideals, and the issues directly affecting the women of Vancouver.
  • Vision Candidates: We all want to be nominated, I know, so asking you (and I speak primarily to my fellow male candidates here) to actively support your fellow female candidates may seem odd, but here’s my challenge. Choose at least two non-incumbent women for whichever office you’re running for, and ask them what you can do to help them get nominated. They may refuse, but they may not. This is not meant in a patronising, ‘women-need-men’s-help-to-get-elected’ way; but rather the stark reality is that there’s a severe gender imbalance amongst the candidates. It’s easy to think that nominating only one non-incumbent woman counts as progressive, but it is mistaken. Nominating more women candidates is essential if we are serious about seeing more women elected. Regardless, when emailing your supporters, let them know the importance of nominating female candidates, and endorse at least two non-incumbent women candidates for each office.
  • Vision Executive: After this election cycle is complete, I challenge you to strike a committee to investigate electoral gender parity issues and to present the committee’s suggestions to the Vision membership for a vote on at our next AGM.
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