ToL Election 2022 Poll Results: Sept 9

Woodward Takes Early Lead, Coleman Slow to Start

The campaign is now well underway to decide the Township of Langley’s next Mayor, and our first online poll shows Councillor Eric Woodward is in a healthy lead with a 40.7% voting share. With no other competitor within the margin of error, it is apparent that the other three contestants have some ground to make up to catch the wealthy tech entrepreneur-turned-developer-turned-politician. While Woodward has pulled ahead with an early rash of election promises, other candidates have shown some early restraint, both in campaigning and campaign promises.

Former Councillor Michelle Sparrow and current Councillor Blair Whitmarsh has been neck to neck since the start of the polling data, both within the margin of error of the poll with Sparrow edging out at 22% to Whitmarsh’s 20.1%. Interestingly, once the question of a respondents second choice was added to the poll, 50% of Sparrow’s voters indicated no second choice. 25% would likely vote for Whitmarsh, 17% for Coleman and only 8% for Woodward. However, 55% of Whitmarsh’s voters would choose Coleman for their second option, 20% would pick Woodward and only 10% would choose Sparrow. Meanwhile, 69% of Coleman’s supporters would pick Whitmarsh, 23% would pick Sparrow and only 8% would support Woodward. Early interpretation would suggest that while in the lead, Woodward has the least to gain from other supporters, meanwhile Whitmarsh’s campaign suffers the most from Coleman’s entry into municipal politics.

Pratt Starts Ahead of the Pack, Contract With Langley Target 4 Spots

The councillor race has a surprise leader in the 25-year-young Michael Pratt, who ran 4 years ago and came in a respectable 10th place. Pratt’s early campaign has come out strong with 36.7% of all respondents stating they would vote for Pratt. Longtime dairy farmer from a longtime Langley pioneer family, 3-term Councillor David Davis is unsurprisingly near the top of the polls with 32.9% support, although not yet declaring his candidacy at the time of this writing (he’s even had some write-in votes for Mayor).

7-term Kim Richter is tied for third with fellow incumbent Margaret Kunst, who is finishing her first term, at 30%. Both Richter and Kunst have lost recent elections on the federal and provincial levels, respectively, for the federal Liberal Party of Canada (in 2021) and the provincial BC Liberals (in 2020).

Contract With Langley has had 3 team members – Tim Bailie (29%), Steve Ferguson (23.8%), and Barb Martens (23.8%) in the top 8 since the start. Other members, Rob Rindt (21%), Misty Van Popta (20.5%) and AJ Cheema (16.7%) have yet to place in the top 8, but Rindt may slide into the top 8 should one rumoured candidate (see below) remain undeclared.

Surprisingly, Brit Gardner – who has not yet confirmed rumours, but who was a key member of Woodward’s 2018 campaign team – has polled in the top 8 with 23.3% of the intended vote. [Full disclosure: I was a real estate representative of Gardner and have offered to sign her nomination papers if she decides to run]

Incumbents Petrina Arnason (19%), who has announced her run and submitted papers, and 7-term Bob Long (17.1%), who has not submitted papers or declared his intention to run (as of the time of writing), both find themselves outside of the top 8, albeit both within the margin of error of some of the top 8 candidates.

Other declared independents such as Rebecca Darnell (13.8%) and Teresa Townsley (11.4%) are also posting strong early poll numbers, but aren’t breaking the top 10 in the polls. Harold Whittell, who ran in 2018 and is undeclared, was added to the poll late in the week, so his true support is probably a fair bit higher.

Meanwhile Carey Poitras, Michael Chang, Alex Joehl, Karen Moraes, Carlos Suarez Rubio and Jessie Acton have struggled to receive support from even 7% of voters. However, the campaign has just begun and these independents have only had some nominal early airtime.

This leaves us with Coleman’s Elevate Langley slate. Late to start, several of the candidates were not announced until well into the latter part of the week of the poll. Their top candidate, Scott Cameron, however, was included from the beginning and has been polling in 15th place with 12.9% support, below Bob Long and Rebecca Darnell. Other members of the team, most being late entries, have struggled to each 5% support at this time.

While the top 5 have secured comfortable leads, and only 3 members of the Contract With Langley are currently in the top 8, three of those who are in the top have not actually declared or submitted papers as of the morning of the deadline (they have until 4:00pm today). Should any of these three rumoured candidates (Davis, Richter, and Gardner) decide against running, it would provide Woodward’s team with a majority vote on council – if the early polls held out on October 15. However, as the names solidify and the campaign truly commences, expect these numbers to shift throughout the month.

Charlie Fox Leads School Board Race

Perhaps not surprisingly, former Township of Langley Councillor and school principal, Charlie Fox leads the polls at 34.8% after winning in 2021’s by-election. Fox’s runner up in that by-election, Joel Neufeld, with the Contract With Langley slate, is comfortably in second place with 31% with his teammate, Holly Dickinson, not too far behind at 29%. Rumoured candidate Stacey Wakelin, who also ran in the 2021 by-election, is neck to neck with Dickinson at 27.6% and 5th place incumbent Suzanne Perrault (26.7%). All fall within the margin of error.

Two incumbents, Rod Ross and Marnie Wilson, sit well outside of the top 5 spots needed with 19% and 18.5%, respectively. Not far behind, recently announced Contract With Langley slate member Sarb Rai (18.1%) and Gareth Lockhart (17.1%) are all close together for the 6th to 9th positions to start the race and have some ground to make up. Former Trusteee Cecelia Reekie was added to the poll late upon request of a subscriber, so her lower number may not represent true support. Other rumoured candidates haven’t really made a dent in the polls beyond this.

Local Issues Added To Poll, Then Deleted

Later in the week, I added 5 optional questions regarding 9 municipal issues that are often seen as competing with each other to learn what your preferences are. Although there were some healthy responses, I did notice the optional second page led to a decrease in overall poll completions, so I later deleted the poll.

Why Am I Doing This?

Other than being interested myself in this election while fully understanding the limitations and challenges of any polling, whether conducted professionally or not, I have a few other motivations which I will be transparent about.

First, I’m interested in trends. Over the next 4 weeks, I will be tracking the difference in the data from the start of the campaign to the week before the first advance polls. I will, however, not be polling beyond September 30, 2022.

Second, I am interested in fine-tuning local polling data. I have seen 3 different early polls paid for by 3 different people that say 3 wildly different things about the Mayor’s race. I am interested in providing valuable and hopefully accurate polling to local residents in a race that rarely received public polls. As this is my first poll on the local level run by myself, I don’t expect to be completely accurate, but over time, I will hope to develop a service that the public finds valuable.

Third, it isn’t unlikely that I will eventually run for local office myself, so I hope that studying trends will help fine tune my own hypothetical future campaign, or any others I may work on.

One thing to be perfectly clear – I have not been retained by any candidate, campaign, or company to do this. I am paying for this website and poll expenditures from my own personal funds with no financial incentive. There is no direct financial benefit for me for any candidate to win office. I am a citizen concerned with the economic and environmental sustainability of the way we build our municipalities and our individual health and livability.

*BALLOT UPDATE*

Shortly after the 4:00pm deadline for nomination papers to be submitted, the draw for the ballot order was undertaken. This ballot order has been reflected on the refresh of the poll. Also, some potential candidates were also removed, including some surprises. Incumbents David Davis (served 3 terms) and Bob Long (served 7 terms) both decided against running in the Township of Langley (the latter is rumoured to be running in Princeton). Since both Councillors Whitmarsh & Woodward are running for Mayor, this leaves 4 empty spots on Council.

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