🤔 First Impressions of #Langley Township 2018 candidates…. 🤔

⚠️ Warning… it’s a long one 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽

If you haven’t noticed by the thousands of non-real estate related coroplast signs that have littered the streets, we’re well into the 2018 municipal elections. Yet heading in October some candidates haven’t moved past an announcement & a sign, whereas others have been extremely proactive & aggressive campaigning.

Most of those who know me know I either try to stay politically involved or at the very least, do my best to keep informed (the best I can do with my career and father of 4). This is partially because I’m a research-based Realtor who just needs to know everything about my community. But the real reason is that I’m just a political junkie.

Every election, especially local elections, I have a decent amount of people asking me who I support, what I think of the candidates and often expressing their confusion over their choices. You would be surprised how many people tell me they vote based solely on which signs or names they remember yet know nothing about the platforms and ideas.

This will be one of just a handful of public posts I will make in this election. While I may just post this to satisfy my ego, pretending you actually care what I think, I am justifying the time I’m taking to write this by my sincere unapologetic love for Langley and my opinion that local government arguably has more impact in our day to day lives than any other level of government.

The following comments are as value neutral and brief as possible. I want to avoid rumours and gossip and give each candidate a chance to deliver their ideas before I provide my own recommendations and reviews next month.

This election is an odd one. There are always controversies in any election so there is nothing new here. However, in this election we have 8 of the 9 council incumbents running, 2 former multi-term councillors, plus some fairly strong competitors. While I doubt we will see a serious shake up of council, it only takes one or two changes to really shift how the Township of Langley moves forward.

In the first couple of weeks it isn’t always obvious to see who has money and who doesn’t, who really wants this and who is coasting, who is progressive and who is traditional, and more importantly, who is for the status quo and who are the agents of change.

Since Langley is obsessed with “independent” candidates (whatever that really means), it can be confusing to know what people actually stand for, especially when platitudes and promises of suburban utopia are the norm. While perhaps not falling prey to the follies of hyper-partisanship, the disadvantage of not having political associations (or the pejorative, “slates”) is that the average voter doesn’t know that many candidates share the same funding sources, campaign teams, and other resources. Only those in “the know” are privy to most of this information.

There are three recognizable categories of candidates, but I am not (yet) saying these categories represent hidden slates or common resources. Some true “independents” can, in fact, think like other independents and I will not, at least in this post anyway, make any assumptions regarding this notion.

The first category are candidates who support the status quo. If you are happy with how our Township planning, finances, infrastructure, development, safety, crime, roads, etc are being handled, these are the people you will likely be drawn toward: incumbent Mayor Jack Froese, councillors Bob Long, Angie Quaale, and Blair Whitmarsh. Both former councillors, Bev Dornan & Steve Ferguson would also fit in this category, looking to fill the seat left by Councillor Fox, who is retiring, and try to take a stronger majority on council. Margaret Kunst is another obvious status quo candidate. Less obvious is Michael Pratt. Characteristics of this group are generally a pro-development, low tax, developer-friendly stream of thought.

The second group are the “anti-establishment” candidates. This group is usually very dissatisfied with pretty much anything the status quo does, especially when it comes to development/density, farmland and environmental concerns. Incumbent Councillors Kim Richter & David Davis are strong opponents of the council majority. Incumbent Councillor Petrina Arnason might also be considered a part of this group but could also fit into the next category. Mayoral candidate Anna Remenik along with council challengers Michelle Connerty & Kerri Ross are also obvious anti-establishment candidates who have spoken loudly against the way that the Township is being developed.

The third group are the wildcards. These are people who don’t fit neatly with the status quo or the anti-establishment. They often are looking for the middle way in Langley’s politics. For this reason this group has the greatest variety of differences. The litmus test for this category of candidates is if they are targeted by the two other sides at the same time. They are usually both for strong development and pro-density but are often against the Council majority in many regards, especially the development process, farmland and environmental concerns. Incumbent councillor Michelle Sparrow would likely find herself in this position, but so could Petrina Arnason, also mentioned above. I would consider the “radically libertarian” Mayoral candidate Alex Joehl (although “middle way” wouldn’t exactly fit) and council candidates Gail Chaddock-Costello, Gary Hee, Phyllis Heppner, Jonathan Houweling, Harold Whittel and Eric Woodward as wildcards and/or “moderates”.

The rest of the candidates either haven’t really said enough or what they’ve said hasn’t provided enough clues to where they fit into my square boxes. Sunny Hundal has a lot of nice looking signs but his websites is mostly (potentially contradictory) platitudes – so far he seems to come across as a status quo candidate. Terry Sheldon is running again but is so far MIA from what I can tell. Craig Teichrieb has made a few comments which may have him as an anti-establishment candidate but my guess is he is more of a wildcard, but I’ll keep my eye out. Stacey Wakelin is known for SOGI activism but I haven’t seen much substance yet in the September campaign. I hope that these candidates can get more actual ideas out in October.

Overall, I feel that the campaign season hasn’t really taken hold apart from all the election signs. A handful of candidates are utilizing social media ads whereas others are nowhere to be seen. There have been a couple poorly attended all candidates meetings that really don’t allow the candidates to say much but often turn into lectures and lobbying. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ll be working on a list of pointed questions and do my best to attain answers from each candidate.

Is this post helpful? Do you agree/disagree? Feel free to start a (respectful) conversation.

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