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New queer candidate seeks NPA nomination

Ladner denies it's damage control after Hamilton rejection

Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Vancouver mayoral hopeful Peter Ladner is singing the praises of Sean Bickerton — the latest queer candidate hoping for a spot on the NPA’s municipal election slate.

Ladner talked of the city’s homelessness and drug addiction issues as he addressed the small group that gathered at Sean Bickerton’s Downtown Eastside home Sep 5.

“The city is not going to solve these issues for people, we’re not going to do it to people; we are going to do it with people like Sean,” Ladner said.

“The NPA is there to support [Sean]. We are going to be welcoming him with open arms to our team and looking forward to his support Nov 15,” he added.

The announcement of another gay NPA candidate comes one week after Jamie Lee Hamilton, a transsexual sex-trade advocate, was turned away from NPA candidacy for the parks board in what she alleges was discrimination on the basis of her sexuality and profession.

When Xtra West asked Ladner if the move to back Bickerton was an act of damage control in light of Hamilton’s rejection by the NPA’s nomination committee, he replied: “Sean has been involved and interested long before anything flared up with Jamie Lee. Jamie Lee’s rejection by the board had nothing to do with her sexual orientation. We have had people from the GBLT community — either on slate or on council — for as long as I can remember.”

Gordon Price finished his sixth term with the NPA on council in 2002. Alan Herbert sat on city council with the NPA for one term from 1996 to 1999, but lost his bid to run again after he fought to get the gay Fountainhead Pub its liquor licence.

New to politics, Bickerton, who has worked as a classical violinist, volunteer for the Union Gospel Mission and other non-profit organizations, says he has witnessed the “horrific” living situation of people in the Downtown Eastside. “We stand at a crossroads,” he says. “The issues could not be more stark or clear.”

Bickerton says collectivity and working “from the ground up” has brought him to the political platform he is at now.

“I approach the [homelessness] issue two-fold,” he says. “I think we have to clean up the area for the people who live here and I think that also includes people who are homeless. No humans in the 21st century should live in those conditions.”

Ladner agreed, saying, “I don’t care if the Olympics are what it takes to clean up the city and provide answers and the solutions to what we need.”

An openly queer candidate — one who has been on the receiving end of gaybashing — Bickerton says he wants to shed light on and find solutions to issues of homophobia in the city, as well as issues concerning sex education.

“Safer sex campaigns, not just for the gay and lesbian community but also for minority communities in the city, is very important and I’d like to be involved,” he says.

Bickerton also thinks awareness of the gay community and all it represents should play a greater role in the city. “I would really like to take Davie St and revitalize it and make it a showcase for our community. Make it a focal point for Pride.”

The Vancouver civic elections will be held Nov 15.