3 mayoral & 23 Councillor candidates – par for the course in #Langley Township. A lot of the names this time around are easily recognizable. Luckily for some candidates it isn’t their record or platform that will get them elected. Its all about who will resonate with 8000 or so voters to get elected by the 25% of the eligible voters who care enough to vote.
Candidates will pander to what you want to hear over the next month and a bit. Don’t like development? “I’ll stop it” she says. Can’t find parking? “I’ll force more parking minimums!” he says. House prices are too high, there is too much traffic, crime is on the rise! “We’ll fix it all!” they all say. Lower taxes!!!!! Yes!!!!
But how? Over the next month, listen carefully. Don’t just be negative – ask the real tough questions. How can we add more parking without increasing traffic? How can we reduce the cost of home ownership or rental without more family friendly development? How can we build roads, hire police, provide water without taxes?
There are a lot of candidates that are “nice”. Some are “listening to the people”. Some are are genuinely good people, but simply don’t have a clue about city planning or budgeting. Frankly, most of us don’t. Sunny ways & populist mentality can easily lead to more traffic, more debt, worse planning, higher housing prices, higher taxes, etc – all because they want to please everyone but don’t understand planning. We don’t need to elect rubber-stamping, visionless hacks either, but there are enough candidates that an educated populace should be able elect some people with a bit of vision.
Over the next month, don’t just ask your candidate if they will fix “your” problem. Ask how they will do it. Ask how will they will solve your parking issue meanwhile not creating a traffic crisis. Ask if they understand induced demand – more lanes means more traffic, not less. Ask if they understand why you can’t just vote against every budget. Ask why strip malls beside farmland is a bad idea. Ask if they’ve read a book on city planning… ever.
Guiding a rapidly growing municipality is not easy work. Let’s not leave it to the “nice guys” who simply agree with you but make problems worse, nor the “rubber stampers” who are basically stumps in a seat saying yes to ugly, mediocre, outdated development. Let’s look beyond our personal gripes and vote for vision & smart planning. Better yet, let’s engage with our candidates and force them to come up with a vision.
Who can guide our municipality to the future? Who will move past asking sarcastic questions and actually make tough necessary decisions? Who will be Langley’s leaders for a new generation?
Great books for candidates and voters (yes, I’ve read all of these):
Happy City (Montgomery)
The High Cost of Free Parking (Shoup)
Human Transit (Walker)
Smart Cities (Townsend)
Walkable City (Speck)*
Walking Home (Greenberg)
Wrestling with Moses (Flint)
*Read this first