Chak Au is a problem solver through and through.
Whether it's his 20-plus year tenure in public office or decades of work as a family therapist, there isn't a corner of Richmond that Au's influence hasn't touched.
This loyalty to his community, unwavering focus on finding a middle ground and comprehensive skill set are his primary motivators for running for his fourth consecutive term on Richmond city council this October.
"We always say that 'time will tell,' and you can see that in my record of more than 20 years of public service and how hard I work," Au says. "People can put their confidence in me."
He believes in honest government, transparent decision making, open consultation and citizen engagement. He felt his training as a family therapist prepared him to always "listen to both sides, go deep into the roots of the problem, and develop creative options to problem solve," skills he finds applicable to finding solutions to the city's challenges.
During Au's last council term, two crucial pieces of legislation stick out among his proudest accomplishments: leading council motions to end single-use plastics in Richmond and pushing the city to adopt principles around the circular economy for all purchasing, tenders, and contracts.
Both moves speak to his desire to leave the world a better place for future generations.
"I'm very proud of those two motions because these are long-term changes," Au explains. "They're bringing in substantial, sustainable change for our city."
Fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English, Au came to Canada from Hong Kong in 1988 and has given back to his adopted homeland from day one. Au was an elected school trustee from 1999 to 2011 and served twice as the vice-chairperson of the Richmond Board of Education.
A well-decorated official, Au has received several accolades. He was recognized by the Vancouver Sun as one of "The 100 Most Influential Chinese-Canadians in B.C." in 2006. In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award.
In 2014, he received the Community Champion Special Award from the federal Canadian Racial Relations Foundation on behalf of the Interfaith for World Peace Society, which he co-founded.
As for his re-election campaign, Au highlights three specific points of his platform: intercultural harmony, environmental sustainability, and economic development.
As a strong advocate of multiculturalism and racial harmony, Au has assisted and co-founded many local organizations, including the Community Mental Wellness Association of Canada, Interfaith for World Peace Society and the Canadian International Education Assistance Foundation.
In 2019, Au co-founded the Stop Racism Alliance Society in response to the rise of racism and hate crimes within the community.
He has served on numerous boards and committees on poverty reduction, intercultural relations, and child care.
"We are a very diverse community, with over 150 languages spoken in our city," Au says. "That is a crucial issue for us to build up one community that all citizens can feel comfortable with."
Au also points to Richmond's location on the map as a strategic, economic benefit, not just for Richmond but the entire country.
"We are the gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, and Richmond is well-positioned to be an international business hub," he continues. Au wishes to attract more high-tech and pharmaceutical companies into Richmond to create more high-paying jobs for the people.
Fiscal responsibility also plays a pivotal role in Au's vision for Richmond. He voted against council pay raises in 2019 and refused to accept the increase after it was adopted by council. He will ensure that any conversations about public safety – which account for 20 cents of every tax dollar in the city's budget – explore all avenues of spending and community priorities.
Despite the stresses and voluminous workloads associated with public office, Au remains committed to his community for at least another four-year term, if not longer.
"I'm at a stage where I don't have to worry about much. I can live a decently good life, but it's not all about me," Au explains. "I have to care for the larger community, and if I have the capacity to do it, then why not?"