A handsome man standing beside a woman wearing a cycling helmet on a city street

Mark Vonesch 3: the Gregor Robertson connection

Cortes Islanders will be going to the polls on October 15th and Mark Vonesch hopes they will elect him as their next Regional Director. In the third of a series of interviews, he talks about how the example of former Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson inspired him to enter politics.

Vonesch’s connection dates back to the years Robertson was living on Cortes.  For a number of years prior to entering politics. His kids went to the schools and he was part of the local community.

“I initially got connected with him while he was living here on Cortes and as he got into politics, it opened my eyes to like, oh wow, people I know can run for politics  and make a difference and make a positive impact. I was really attracted to that,” explained Vonesch.

 “When he announced his candidacy to run for the mayor of Vancouver, I volunteered on his campaign.”

Vonesch did everything he could, from signing up volunteers to making politcial videos. 

Robertson became the longest serving mayor of Vancouver, serving from Dec 8 2008 until Nov 5, 2018.

During those 10 years Vancouver adopted the Greenest City Action Plan, and put in bike lanes.

That kind of leadership shows that things can be different.

“Vancouver was the first city to call itself a city of reconciliation and actually make significant impact  on recognizing that we’re living on the unceded lands of Indigenous people and doing active things towards reconciliation,” said Vonesch.

Robertson showed him how politics works: how ugly it can get and what can be accomplished.

“It really left me with a belief that making positive changes through politics can happen, especially building a coalition of voters that have shared values around the key issues that are important to the community. There’s a lot of work to be done in Cortes Island and there’s more common ground between us than we might think.” 

Top image credit: Gregor Robertson close to the Burrard Street Bridge shortly after being elected mayor in June 2008. In 2009 one of the dedicated vehicle lanes was removed and protected bicycle lane installed. Robertson served as mayor until Nov 2018 – Photo by Ariane Colenbrander via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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