Former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan defeated former Vancouver Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt Feb 20 to become the BC Liberal Party candidate for Vancouver-False Creek.
Sullivan took 273 votes in riding association balloting to Mayencourt’s 202. Third-place finisher Brian Fixter won 40 votes.
A provincial general election is expected to take place May 14.
Sullivan will now face NDP candidate Matt Toner and Green Party candidate Daniel Tseghay in a contest to represent Vancouver-False Creek in the BC legislature.
Sullivan told reporters he took no joy in beating Mayencourt, who is an ardent supporter of Premier Christy Clark. But he’s confident he can hold the riding currently held by Liberal MLA Mary McNeil, who has announced she will not seek reelection. “I think we can do it,” Sullivan says.
Though Sullivan beat Clark for the Non-Partisan Association’s nomination to run for mayor on its municipal slate in 2005, he doesn’t believe that that win will be a barrier to a good working relationship with the premier in this election race.
“One day you’re enemies; the next day you’re friends,” he says.
The former mayor says it’s important to have strong support for the arts and for entrepreneurs in the riding. “We need to provide the best cultural environment,” he says.
When Sullivan’s win was announced after the riding association vote, a loud cheer went up from the crowd, including its significant queer presence.
“I think Sam holds the values that are important to the people of False Creek,” supporter Andrew Benson tells Xtra. “He’s the kind of candidate that doesn’t run on partisanship.
“He can have right-leaning views, and he can be quite progressive,” Benson says, citing Sullivan’s past stances on development and addiction issues.
Benson believes that Sullivan carries no negative baggage when it comes to the queer community and that he’s open to listening to everyone’s needs. “He is very good at bringing a party together, which is something that the BC Liberals need right now,” he says.
Sullivan calls Toner an “unknown” in politics. “I’m looking forward to debating him,” he says.
Toner too is looking forward to the race. “You put two Irish guys in the room, you’ve got a good fight,” he says.
Toner predicts voters will remember Sullivan’s track record on issues such as the Olympic legacy around housing in False Creek. “He’s kind of a divisive figure.”