The party hoping to sweep back into power at Vancouver city hall after a decade in opposition has chosen an entrepreneur with no political experience as its mayoral candidate.
Ken Sim, who co-founded Nurse Next Door and Rosemary Rock Salt bagels, won the Non-Partisan Association nomination easily with 977 votes out of 1,960, even though he was the last to announce his candidacy for the three-way race.
The results came as a surprise to many, including Mr. Sim.
“I didn’t expect this. It was very humbling,” said the soft-spoken Mr. Sim, who was competing for the job with city-hall watchdog Glen Chernen and park-board commissioner John Coupar.
Mr. Chernen was thought to be in a strong position after signing up members since he competed for a council byelection spot last fall.
Mr. Sim’s supporters included former NPA president Peter Armstrong, the CEO of Rocky Mountaineer; and lululemon founder Chip Wilson.
Sim, 47, had pitched himself to NPA members earlier in the day as someone with strong working-class roots: his mother worked as a typist for B.C. Packers, and he cleaned bathrooms at a fast-food restaurant to earn money for university.
He also said he would be a “change agent” for the city, which he described as being in crisis, with young people forced to leave Vancouver because of the high cost of housing.
He also took a shot at the provincial government in his speech.
“It’s disgusting when people [are] forced out of their homes when they can’t afford the property taxes, in some cases, more than what they paid for their homes.”
He said he thinks he won because he has a large network of friends from his life in the city.
The nomination vote was the culmination of several rocky months for the NPA, after the party delayed it repeatedly and then decided at the last minute not to allow a sitting councillor for the party to run.
That councillor, Hector Bremner, publicly claimed his exclusion was the result of a party takeover by supporters of his rival, Mr. Chernen. Several party and board members quit after that decision.
In speeches to NPA members, Mr. Chernen called himself a “disruptor” who would help Vancouverites protect themselves from being robbed by the current city government. Mr. Coupar emphasized that he would bring stability to city hall.
One supporter of Mr. Chernen’s said that he was the best choice for needed change.
“Glen spent four-and-a-half, five years digging up all the corruption in the city. No one else did. What’s best is, he’s not a politician,” said Moe Bhatha, who owns a construction business in the city.
But he also thought Mr. Sim would be a reasonable choice, because he’s not a politician.
Many longtime NPA members, like former mayor Philip Owen, councillor George Affleck, and park-board commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung, supported Mr. Coupar, saying the city needed a steady, experienced hand like his.