The good news is the candidate green-lit by Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vision Vancouver party to run in the Oct. 14 by-election hasn’t had to go to court for running a red light.
But the Sept. 6-unveiled city council hopeful Diego Andres Cardona was fined more than $1,000 for driving violations on four occasions since spring 2016. Cardona failed to appear for three traffic court hearings and faces another on Sept. 14 at Robson Square. Cardona said in an interview that he has learned from his mistakes.
Cardona, who turns 22 in February, was scheduled Sept. 7 to dispute a $276 fine levied by Burnaby RCMP for not having a valid driver’s licence last Jan. 20. Neither Cardona nor the officer, who wrote the ticket for the Rumble Street and Gilley Avenue incident, were in courtroom 204 at Robson Square. The presiding judge treated Cardona’s non-attendance as if he was no longer disputing the charge, which means the fine stands and must be paid.
On April 27, 2016, a Burnaby RCMP officer cited Cardona for driving at 1:20 a.m. — during the standard midnight-to-5 a.m. ban for new drivers — and without a qualified, licensed supervisor age 25 or older. The court file shows that Cardona also failed to appear for that Oct. 24, 2016 hearing.
Cardona was charged July 28, 2016 with violating a restriction on a driver’s licence and failing as a new driver to display the letter L (for learner) decal on the exterior of his car. The fines are worth $109 each. According to the court file, Cardona failed to appear for the Aug. 18 hearing, after three defence-initiated adjournments. The ticket was also treated as not disputed.
Cardona did not appear at Robson Square on Sept. 14 to fight another $109 fine for failing to display the learner L and a $253 fine for speeding past a playground sign near John Hendry Park on Sept. 17, 2016. The Vancouver Police officer who wrote the ticket alleges Cardona drove his black 2015 Chrysler 200 at a speed of 61 kilometres an hour in a 30 km-h zone. Cardona’s non-appearance was treated as not disputed.
Cardona was granted two adjournments on this case. His applications mention that he was to attend a professional development course paid by his employer at the University of Toronto March 15 to April 7 and that he took a leave of absence to remain in Toronto until July 17.
Cardona told theBreaker on Sept. 7 that he has paid the fines, but was unable to recall when. theBreaker has asked Cardona to show proof of payment. So far, only one ICBC payment receipt has been shown to theBreaker: a Sept. 1 payment for the $253 speeding in a playground zone ticket. He said that none of the infractions was the “result of me putting the lives of anybody in danger.”
“I really do hope that people are not distracted by mistakes that were made, that were owned and acted on,” Cardona said in an interview. “That’s the idea and I’m not ashamed to share the fact that I did not have financial resources to address these challenges when they did come up.”
Cardona was chosen behind-closed-doors by the Vision Vancouver board, rather than via an open vote by party membership, to contest the seat vacated by Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs. Meggs quit to become Premier John Horgan’s $195,000-a-year chief of staff.
Vancouver city councillors are paid $85,000-a-year, plus expenses. Vision holds six of the 11 council seats, with the NPA at three and Greens at one.
The deadline for nominations to run in the Oct. 14 vote is 4 p.m. Sept. 8. The next general election is Oct. 20, 2018.
Cardona’s bio — issued by the party that has put the bicycle ahead of the car in city planning — says the Killarney-area resident is a spokesperson for the Vancouver Foundation’s Fresh Voices program and works as programs coordinator for Kiwassa Neighbourhood House. His statement of disclosure, filed with the city clerk’s office for the by-election, says that Cardona is also a contractor at both Oxygen Yoga and Fitness and the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, facts omitted from the Vision Vancouver announcement of his candidacy.
The native of Colombia came to Canada as a refugee in 2005 says he cares for his sister as well as his grandmother, who is back in Colombia.