David Chen: Your Candidate for Mayor
David Chen was asked by numerous people in the community to run for mayor. He has a tremendous diversity of education, life experiences, and skills at his disposal.
“What made me decide to run for mayor is that we are almost at the point of no return. I hear people say there’s no saving Vancouver; I see people leaving, and there are more empty houses than our governments have admitted to; and therefore the heart and soul of the city is dying. I hear people saying “If you’re not happy, move.” Move where? This is supposed to be the best place on the planet to live in. Yet people here are worried and despairing about what’s happened. Many of us were born and raised here and we have nowhere to go. This is the last stand, the last fight. We need strong leadership in city hall to turn the ship before it hits the rocks.”
David’s education includes a degree from McGill in human physiology, and a degree from UBC in biopsychology and social psychology. Currently a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging, and a Certified Financial Planner®, he has run his own business for 13 years, specializing in financial planning for families with disabilities.
“I learned about dealing with disabilities due to two back injuries I suffered – both as the result of drivers running stop signs and causing serious accidents – once when I was in a car, and once when I was on a motorbike. As a result of my injury, I was out of work for two years, with no personal disability coverage. I applied for jobs, but no one would hire someone with a disability. As a result, it took me seven years to recover financially. I wanted to help people with disabilities because life can throw a number of curve balls at us, and we need to be financially prepared for everything from huge emergencies to ongoing life changes.”
David’s past jobs include technical scuba diver trainer, emergency first responder trainer, licensed amateur radio operator with Industry Canada, and a production/sales manager, and forklift driver.
“This range of blue-collar to white-collar jobs has given me an understanding of almost every function within City Hall, and of a wide variety of jobs out there. I understand what jobs have to be done, what is realistic and how they can be done, and also how to inspire people. I’ve worked in everything from scientific experiments to short-order cooking; I’ve run businesses, been an entrepreneur and mentor, and as a result have dealt with people in all walks of life, from the social elite to the extremely marginalized. This means I understand how different people think, within all sectors of our society.”
Parents to three young children, David and his wife (who is an O/R nurse) can be seen biking around Strathcona with their kids in tow. David also manages to fit in hobbies (archery, fixing motorcycles) and helping out his community in many ways: He currently mentors young entrepreneurs, and chairs his children's school Parent Advisory Committee. For 9 years, David was president of a 500-unit strata, which gave him experience in dealing with developers and contractors, and in managing a democratic system within a small community.
“Strata councils are actually structured very much like city councils, which means that the powers the council has, and the way we think and decide on things, is similar. A 500-unit strata means that you are dealing with things on a large scale; the developer we were dealing with was one of the largest internationally. I’ve also learned, from my various roles, how some developers (not all!) find ways to work the system for their own gain, and what needs to be put in place to ensure that communities are sustained rather than crushed, while development goes on.”
Born and raised in Vancouver, David has seen the changes happening to Vancouver; he’s had many friends “priced out” of this city, and knows that this can keep spiralling out of control if someone doesn’t do something, quickly. He wants this to be a city every Vancouverite’s children can grow up in… and stay in.
“I feel saddened by many of the changes to our city. The Vancouver I grew up in was a big city with a small-town feel, and it doesn’t have that any more. We had a beautiful skyline, access to so many parks, and a feeling of freedom. Now, people are working so hard just to survive that we don’t have the time to enjoy so much of what made this city wonderful. Many of the parks and resources that were once free, now cost money. A lot of these spaces are now under-utilized. It’s got to the point that a family can’t even afford to spend the day in Stanley Park or Spanish Banks because of the cost of parking.”
The values David prioritizes are integrity, fairness, and justice. He has a passion for creating and maintaining strong communities. His decision to co-found a new municipal governance party stemmed from wanting to be unrestricted by political leanings, and from wanting to not join an existing party that is indebted ̶ in any way ̶ to developers, unions, corporations, organized group, or politicians. This “clean slate” approach means that ProVancouver can focus on solutions rather than obligations.
“Ethics are of utmost importance to me. Every job I’ve ever done – paid and volunteer – I’ve done in the most ethical way possible, and this is something that will continue to guide everything I do.”