Although he may have lost the city council election on Saturday, 24-year-old Abubakar Khan is undeterred.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “It was an exciting campaign but was very much worth it. I have learned so much, and I feel like I have earned a PhD in politics.”
The third-year University of British Columbia sociology student put his studies on hold to run for council. He was one of a handful of Muslim and persons of color to run in the election.
At 24, he wanted to become Vancouver’s youngest-ever city councillor.
Candidate based his campaign on personal experience
Khan is a charismatic, tall young man who views himself as an idealist. He offered particular personal reflections and insights to local conditions. His plans for change were driven from his own experience growing up in an immigrant community.
“There needs to be a fresh perspective at the council,” he said just days before Saturday’s municipal election. “There is a huge demographic that is not represented there that could be from minorities or from a younger generation.”
On the campaign trail, Khan talked about the discrimination, negligence, and isolation he experienced growing up in Vancouver.
He knew the campaign would be a challenge. He knew winning was unlikely. More than 70 candidates ran, many of them already attached to parties.
Khan was not ready to join any particular political party, so he ran as an independent. He promised to tackle issues from the housing crisis to mental health to the promotion of innovation.
Support from the Muslims community
Much of Khan’s support came mostly from the Muslim community. In his final push to get votes, Khan spoke at a local mosque to about 200 worshippers and urged them to vote for him and called on people to stay connected and take part in the democratic process.
Muhammad Jamil liked what he heard.
“I support Abubakar, his family came somewhere at the beginning of the 19th century.” He decided he would vote for Abubakar after seeing his commitment firsthand.
“For the last three to four years, he has been looking after people and has done community work. He is a very, very confident person.”
The road ahead for candidate Khan
Despite Saturday’s loss, Khan says he is not giving up on politics.
“I will continue my work to connect communities and bring them together, particularly the minorities. I want the minorities to participate in the political process and have representation in politics,” he said.
“As of right now, I am only concentrating on working and helping the work that I have been doing, which was connecting youth and helping homeless people, but maybe one day I will run for public office when the time is right.”