In a city as diverse as Vancouver one would think that diversity would be well represented in our civic government. That isn’t the case. What’s worse is the facade put on by our political leaders to get the minority vote. Why are minorities not represented in municipal politics? Why the lack of involvement and voter turnout? We asked these questions to one of the youngest candidates in this coming civic election, Michael Darni.
VcB: You are one of the younger candidates in this civic election, what inspired you to run in the election?
Dharni: Being in my final year of University, I have started looking at what life is going to be like after graduation I observed thousands of other 20 something Vancouver residents being forced out of the city because they simply can’t afford to live here. I want to bring the young adult perspective on issues that are being discussed on the city level.
VcB: What are the issues you feel that you would want to address the most?
Dharni: There are a lot of people frustrated with our current transportation situation in Vancouver. Cyclist complain that motorist don’t share the road with them. Motorists complain that there are too many bike lanes. It’s a situation where no one is happy. This city is lacking in buses, affordable parking, accommodation of green alternatives and taxis. I would like to take a look at all these issues to solve the big problem of transportation.
VcB: What is the biggest advantage running as an independent? And what is hardest part of running as an Independent?
Dharni: The biggest advantage as running as an independent is that there is no higher up power telling me what to say or how to feel. I can be much more altruistic in my approach because I do not have to worry about how siding with the opposition party will come back to haunt me during re-election time. The hardest part of running as an independent has been trying to get people to look at you seriously because people look at you and say if you were a serious candidate a party would have picked you up. One my goals this through my election campaign has been to change the notion of that all independent candidates are extremist, or whack jobs.
VcB: I see you are the only Indo-Canadian candidate running for city councillor. Do you feel that the South Asian community is underrepresented in municipal government? If so, why?
Dharni: I feel there is a general lack of knowledge on what the municipal government actually does among the South Asian community. During my door to door campaign of South Vancouver I found a lot of people happy to allow me put up my sign on their lawn, but they had no clue what a city councillor was or what the position entailed. We always hear people complaining about poor voter turnout. I’ve seen a lot of electronic media aimed at getting the youth to get out and vote, but I think more needs to be done to get out to the ethnic communities and educate the people. As for representation, I am very proud about my Indian heritage but feel that my skin color and ethnic background should not matter when people go to the polls on November 19th.