13 September 2008

She's got vision

September 12, 2008
By ALEX G. TSAKUMIS (24 Hours)

Every so often, a great candidate for public office will emerge and I'm then left wondering why we can't attract more of the same, or, if we will ever get as good in the future.

You've read here, time and again, my arguments for everything from an expansive compassion for the life of a politician - even though some may habitually fail us - to paying top dollar to get top drawer.

But to legitimize such generosity, the best kind of public servant has to be someone more than a walking resume.

Besides, casting your ballot for a candidate is always based on an emotional connection between you and them: Why do we trust them? Can they help a greater cause? Is their vision congruent with ours?

Well, if you're looking for a star in the making, even though I would argue she's already arrived, someone who you can trust and will be, at the very least, a capable steward in helping to manage an almost $1 billion annual City of Vancouver budget ... let me introduce you to Andrea Reimer.

At the outset and this should be of little surprise, Reimer, the Western Wilderness Committee starlet, with stellar "Green" credentials, is not someone whom I would find myself in agreement with on many issues: She believes in climate crisis, I believe we have climate change; she thinks Al Gore is bona fide eco-hero, I think he's a vacuous buffoon; she, as a Vision candidate for council, would have you believe we need to throw the economic book open and start reprioritizing, I hope they understand you can't multiply the city's wealth by dividing it first.

And so on ...

So why then do I think Andrea Reimer will make a great city councillor? Because she exudes trust.

I trust her.

It's not Reimer's intelligence, of which there is plenty, or her effusive care, of which there is an equal amount.

Andrea Reimer is not someone who will blindly follow if she feels that the greater good is to vote her conscience instead.

That's the kind of independence that used to be the hallmark commitment of NPA champions such as Lynne Kennedy, Gordon Price and George Puil. It's what made my old pal Harry Rankin a legend. It's what makes COPE's David Cadman a credible firebrand.

Moreover, Reimer's personal story is so very compelling. She has transformed from a "street kid" to an educated, polished, knowledgeable, clear-headed local hero that other young women (and men), can point to as the desired end product in a life otherwise riddled with successive challenges of monumental scope.

She doesn't take the easy way out. It must be a principled cause. It has to matter.

"Although I'm concerned about what we're doing in this city, I'm just as concerned about the way we're doing it," Reimer told me earlier this week. "Council has to have a compassionate agenda that speaks to the needs of the city as a whole," she said.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

Now, you may think it's the same message that we might get from any "candidate for change," but Reimer's plump credentials and gripping journey notwithstanding, her message is persuasive, if not reassuring.

"You can't let yourself down ... because people won't believe you can help them either ..." she says.

Andrea Reimer has an independent, progressive voice and she will lead this city (and perhaps, one day, the region) to a better place soon enough. Much better.

And, apparently, she doesn't let you down either.

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