Vancouver's Chinese votes are up for grabs in a mayoral race after the defeat of the only ethnic Chinese who had been seeking the opposition candidacy, and former Chinese favourite Mayor Sam Sullivan having already been dumped by his own party. Opposition party Vision Vancouver, which is trying to lure Mr Sullivan's Chinese supporters ahead of the November polls, held a members-only ballot on Sunday that resulted in organic-juice entrepreneur Gregor Robertson being anointed the party's mayoral candidate. He defeated two-term councillor Raymond Louie, who had described his candidacy as 'symbolic' for many of the city's Chinese voters. About 30 per cent of Vancouver city's 570,000 residents are ethnic Chinese. In the Greater Vancouver area of 2 million residents, 18 per cent are Chinese. After six years on city council, Mr Louie, the son of a Chinese immigrant, had been the strongest Chinese mayoral candidate to have emerged in Vancouver city politics. In 2005, Mr Sullivan became an unlikely favourite among ethnic- Chinese voters. He won the mayor's seat amid an unusually high turnout of Chinese residents in Vancouver, garnering more than 70 per cent of their vote, giving him a narrow victory over his opponent. Mr Sullivan, who is a quadriplegic, had taught himself Cantonese while dressing in the morning, and can now also speak conversational Putonghua. Just two years ago, Mr Sullivan won international accolades for his appearance with the Canadian flag at the Turin Winter Olympics, in a flag holder specially designed for his wheelchair. But a chaotic reign saw the city's Chinese community largely abandon him. 'His support among the Chinese evaporated,' said K.K. Wan, a former member of the mayor's Non-Partisan Association, the ruling party in municipal politics, with NPA members holding a majority of seats on the council. 'He was just all over the map, with so many initiatives but no details of how to execute his ideas.' Dr Wan, a dentist and frequent commentator on politics in the local media, said that with the mayor losing support among Chinese voters, Vision Vancouver was making a big push to garner their backing. Councillor Peter Ladner, who defeated Mr Sullivan to become the party's candidate, says he knows he needs to reach out to ethnic communities to win the November 15 poll. 'The loss of the Chinese voters is a hole for the NPA, and that opens the door for someone else to come in,' said Kennedy Stewart, a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University in the adjacent city of Burnaby. 'The community seems to sway, and now the NPA looks to be an all-white council. That's not very multicultural in this city.' At present, the ruling NPA does not have a single Chinese candidate for council, with half its slate filled and no viable contender on the horizon. The party's sole Chinese councillor, B.C. Lee, has decided not to run again. As for the Vision team, Mr Louie has decided to run again as a councillor after losing the mayoral nomination race. When it comes to municipal politics, Vancouver is an anomaly among Canadian cities. It is one of the only large urban centres where mayors and councillors have the backing of political parties instead of running as independents. 'People in Vancouver all know which of the civic parties are aligned where in the political spectrum,' said Neil Thomlinson, a professor at Toronto's Ryerson University. But Professor Thomlinson says civic parties are thriving in Vancouver because candidates can fashion themselves as independents.