Roy Sakata enters Richmond mayoral race

Sakata is the sixth candidate hoping to become the next mayor of Richmond.

A sixth surprise candidate entered Richmond’s mayoral race Friday afternoon.

Roy Sakata, a retired school principal, submitted his paperwork to Richmond’s election office before the 4 p.m. deadline.

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“I ran because I've heard many people that are very unhappy with what's happening in Richmond,” he told the Richmond News.

Sakata has tried his hand at politics before, when he ran for city councillor in 2014 and the BC Green Party in Richmond-Steveston during last year’s provincial election. BC Liberal MLA John Yap claimed that seat.

Sakata, now retired, had a long career in education working with the Richmond school board and the Gitxsan First Nation. During his time living in northern B.C., he was formally adopted into the wolf clan and given a Gitxsan name that means “white fingers.” Sakata likes it because it evokes the image his hands coated in chalk dust after a lesson at the blackboard. 

He was born in a WWII Japanese internment camp in B.C. in 1942. After being released, his family relocated to Quadra Island where his father, who was born in Richmond, worked as a fisherman.

Richmond’s fishing history is dear to Sakata, and he’s a member of the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society. He thinks it’s important to keep Richmond’s fishing harbour thriving, and wants to make sure it’s dredged appropriately. He also wants to acquire a fire boat to help keep it safe. 

He’s also heard concerns over megahomes on ALR land, and is open to further limiting house sizes.

Similar to other outspoken community members, Sakata is interested in encouraging sign-makers in the community to make sure English is one of the languages.

“The language issue, sadly, has been so divisive in Richmond,” he said.

He’d like to prioritize communication with signage appearing in English as well as the language of the target audience. 

“[My mother, who spoke Japanese] said when someone doesn't understand your language, talk that language they understand,” he said. “I think the message was if you're going to print media, also print it in the language that the other person will understand.”

As for legalized cannabis, Sakata said he’s open to government-operated retail stores selling the plant in Richmond, but not privately-run ones.

Another of Sakata’s concerns is what the sharing economy means for Richmond, with AirBnB already plentiful and ride-sharing services like Uber on the horizon. Sakata said he’d like to see those services integrated with existing ones like hotels and taxis to ensure providers are properly vetted.

Sakata moved back to Richmond from northern B.C. in 2009 to care for his wife Myrna during her battle with lung cancer. She died in 2013, and now Sakata advocates to help others with the disease. He also has two children and grandchildren.

An avid community volunteer, Sakata helps several community organizations including the Steveston Rotary Club. He has also served as the executive director of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre from 2000 to 2002 and later as a principal member of the Economic Development Committee of the Gitxsan community of Gitsegukla..

With Sakata entering, there are now six mayoral candidates, 30 city council candidates and 26 school trustee candidates in Richmond.

Mayoral candidates:

  • Malcolm Brodie
  • Lawrence Chen
  • Donald Flintoff
  • Hong Guo
  • Roy Sakata
  • Cliff Wei

City council candidates:

  • Chak Au
  • Adil Awan
  • Parm Bains
  • Andy Chiang
  • Derek Dang
  • Carol Day
  • Kelly Greene
  • Theresa Head
  • Jonathan Ho
  • Sunny Ho
  • Andy Hobbs
  • Ken Johnston
  • Peter Liu
  • Alexa Loo
  • Bill McNulty
  • Linda McPhail
  • Dennis Paige
  • John Roston
  • Patrick S. Saunders
  • Judie Schneider
  • Niti Sharma
  • Manjit Singh
  • Kerry Starchuk
  • Harold Steves
  • Jason Tarnow
  • Jack Trovato
  • Michael Wolfe
  • Henry Yao
  • Melissa Zhang
  • Zhe Zhang

School trustee candidates:

  • Charvine Adl
  • Sergio Arrambide
  • Rod Belleza
  • Jeffrey Danis
  • Norm Goldstein
  • Andrea Gong-Quinn
  • Ken Hamaguchi
  • Heather Larson
  • Richard Lee
  • James Li
  • Jason Zhen Ning Li
  • Keith Liedtke
  • Sandra Nixon
  • Rahim Othman
  • Ivan Pak
  • Harv Puni
  • Karina Reid
  • Donna Sargent
  • Andrew Scallion
  • Jeffrey Smith
  • Debbie Tablotney
  • Grace Tsang
  • Sharon Wang
  • Alice S. Wong
  • Elsa Wong
  • Eric Yung

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