Park Commissioner Melissa De Genova puts colleague on notice: resign if you become an NDP candidate
Vancouver Park Board Chair Constance Barnes became the first of what is expected to be at least three Vision Vancouver elected officials seeking NDP candidacies for the May 2013 provincial election. Barnes announced today that she is filing her nomination papers to become the BC NDP candidate in Vancouver-False Creek. In 2009 new BC Liberal candidate Mary McNeil won the riding easily with a 4400 vote spread between her and her NDP opponent. However, with the BC Liberals struggling in the polls, the NDP's odds of winning Vancouver-False Creek improve considerably.
Constance Barnes topped the polls for the Vancouver Park Board in both 2008 and 2011. The second victory was even more impressive considering the controversy that swirled around Barnes' drunk driving offense. The daugher of former NDP MLA and BC Lions football player Emery Barnes even gets the advantage of having a park named after her dad in the heart of the riding.
Georgia Straight reporter Carlito Pablo first broke the rumour that Barnes would seek higher office nearly three months ago. Barnes' decision must have been well-formed long before the November civic election in Vancouver, says NPA Park Commissioner Melissa De Genova. In a statement released to the media this afternoon, De Genova accuses Barnes of using the Park Board to further her political ambitions and that the Chair is "now focused on Provincial politics instead" of Vancouver parks:
As a park commissioner who was only sworn in six months ago I am deeply disappointed that one of our fellow commissioners has decided to put her political career ambitions ahead of her work at the Vancouver Park Board. For months Constance Barnes has been hinting at a move into provincial politics, so I am not at all surprised at today's announcement. However, Ms. Barnes has stated that she feels she can carry on as a commissioner and be a candidate for provincial politics. I disagree.
I consider being a Vancouver Park Board commissioner as a tremendous privilege. It's an important responsibility to be a steward of Vancouver's wonderful parks. Running for elected office should require you to make the best effort to serve your entire term in office. A seat on the Vancouver Park Board should not simply be a stepping stone for seeking higher office. It is clear Ms. Barnes has had a desire to run provincially for some time, and she should have made that decision before she decided to add her name to Vision's 2011 park board slate.
The other two Vision candidates that appear to be readying for a provincial run are City Councillor Geoff Meggs, who will be seeking the nomination in the BC Liberal held riding of Vancouver-Fairview, and School Board Chair Patti Bacchus, who will likely get the nod to run against Premier Christy Clark in Vancouver-Point Grey.
If all become NDP candidates for the May 2013 election, they will be obliged to take the direction of their leader Gregor Robertson. After winning the nomination to run as Vision's mayoralty candidate, Robertson chose to step down from his MLA seat in June 2008 after four days of drubbing in the media. He literally "phoned it in" when it came to notifying BC NDP leader Carole James of his departure – he left her a voicemail.
De Genova points this out in today's release:
Just as her leader Gregor Robertson did in 2008, Constance Barnes will have no choice but to resign her seat as Park Commissioner once she becomes the BC NDP candidate in Vancouver-False Creek. This will trigger a costly by-election that will be on the backs of taxpayers, and use funds that otherwise should be spent on our parks, not on Constance Barnes' career ambitions.
It's estimated that a Vancouver by-election will cost in the range of $500,000 up to $1 million. It's unknown whether the Vision Vancouver electoral organization has been complicit in the decisions of so many of their candidates to leave office after only a few months.
– post by Mike