Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson acknowledges that it will not be easy for him to win a third term as mayor as internal polling by his party showed that Kirk LaPointe of the Non-Partisan Association is catching up with him.
“A third term is never a simple proposition,” the former NDP member of the legislature said in a meeting with reporters and editors of The Globe and Mail’s British Columbia bureau.
On Thursday, the centre-left Vision Vancouver and the centre-right NPA suggested next week’s election may be closer than most voters assume.
“The polls that are in newspapers and so on are pretty dated,” Mr. LaPointe said. “It began to change 12, 14 days ago. Now we know that this is a battle down to the last few days. There is a good reason why [Vision’s] ads got much more aggressive. The votes have gotten tighter and even [Vision’s] own literature to their followers has [said] that it’s a tight race. Our research indicates that too.”
In a memo to Vision campaign staff this week, campaign manager Mike Magee acknowledged the change in the race.
“Our research shows that in the Mayor race, Gregor has a lead over Kirk LaPointe among likely voters, but it’s very tight,” he said.
Marcella Munro, Vision’s communications director, said it will be a race to the finish.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to watch how hard we’ve been working in the last three or four days to see that we’re taking this very seriously,” she said.
Mr. Robertson said Vision is pushing to get out the vote after a turnout in 2011 of only about 35 per cent, making a play for support by offering an alternative to the “roller coaster” of past Vancouver politics.
“I believe there’s a quiet majority that believes Vancouver is doing well and that Vision Vancouver is doing a great job.”
He added: “My sense from people that approach me is that they appreciate stability and that I am getting things done for Vancouver.”
Voters go to the polls on Nov. 15, capping a race where Mr. Robertson has cast himself as the experienced incumbent facing a challenge from political rookie Mr. LaPointe, a former managing editor of The Vancouver Sun making his first bid for electoral office.
Mr. Robertson said challenges include the “variable” of the centre-left Coalition of Progressive Electors and Green Party campaigning on the same political turf.
Vancouver’s last mayor elected to three terms was the NPA’s Philip Owen. COPE’s Larry Campbell served a term as did Sam Sullivan of the NPA before Mr. Robertson was elected in 2008.
During the meeting, Mr. Robertson indicated he would not back down on any commitments, whether ending street homelessness by 2015 or dismissing the idea of Chevron donating to Vancouver’s schools.
Mr. Robertson said he believes his view on the oil company reflects that of most Vancouverites. Pressed on whether a sitting mayor should take such a stand, particularly when it deprives schools of $475,000 in corporate funding, Mr. Robertson said yes.
“I do make morally based decisions when lives are at stake or influence on our kids is the issue,” he said. “Politics is not devoid of strong beliefs and values. I think they’re a reflection of our community values. In Vancouver, we are a green city, at our core, and it’s a huge part of our communities and our economy. We make choices accordingly.”
He said he has been ambitious with the city’s toughest challenges and making decisions that were not always popular, but were necessary to move Vancouver forward.
“If I err on the side of going too far, too fast, I’d rather that than be an idle mayor,” he said. “I’m not here to be a placeholder. I want to get things done. That usually means not everyone is happy with the result.”
Still, he said he would aim to better rally support if given another term. “I’ve learned a lot and I hope to be more sensitive to concerns in the next term while continuing to deliver real change.”
Also Thursday, Vision said it was filing a defamation suit against Mr. LaPointe and the NPA on hehalf of Mr. Robertson and Vision Councillor Geoff Meggs over ads that refer to them. The suit seeks a retraction, damages and to stop the ads.
There was a swirl of announcements earlier Thursday, with past NPA party members and one current candidate switching allegiances.
Former NPA president Michael Davis announced his support for Vision, saying the NPA is no longer a diverse, broadly based party. “It has shifted further and further to the right and become a narrow, angry group of people,” he said.
Independent mayoral candidate Bob Kasting held a news conference to announce that people should not vote for him, but vote for Mr. LaPointe because he had the best chance of winning and leading the city forward with a multi-party council.
With a report from Frances BulaReport Typo/Error
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