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Fassbender will run for MLA in Surrey-Fleetwood

The mayor of the City of Langley has his sights set on a new title — MLA.

Peter Fassbender officially announced on Friday morning that he plans to run on behalf of the Liberals for the provincial seat in Surrey-Fleetwood. He confirmed his intentions to The Times on Thursday. The riding is currently held by NDP MLA Jagrup Brar.

Asked whether it makes sense for a politician to hold office in a community where he doesn't reside, Fassbender said he has no problem with anyone in provincial politics doing so.

"If you run for local government you should live in the community," he said.

"Provincially, I don't think it's as critical."

Fassbender said he has been approached to run a number of times over the years both provincially and federally, but waited until he felt the time was right to make the move.

That time is now, both personally and for the Liberal party, he said.

"People … have made the decision that the government is going to change. I don't believe that has to be the case if people have a clear choice about vision and the future.

"Change for the sake of change — that's a dangerous reason to make a change."

"If I wasn't going to step up to the plate now, would I be in the same position in four and a half or five years? I don't know that.

"I have the energy, I have the passion, I have the track record I have the knowledge and I've got the experience, so when you look at all those things, now is the time."

"But it's been really tough. It's easy to stay in your comfort zone."

Fassbender acknowledged,  however, that whether or not he wins the Surrey seat, he has little to lose.

If he does win, he said, he'll work to ensure a smooth transition for the City of Langley.

"If I don't win, I'll carry on and continue to contribute to the community and the region as I have done."

At his Friday announcement, Fassbender said he spent some of his growing up years in Surrey, and both he and his wife Charlene graduated from Queen Elizabeth Secondary.

""I've worked hard for the entire region and I'm committed to making a difference," he said. "The BC Liberals have a vision for the future."

Fassbender said he is not running against incumbent NDP MLA Jagrup Brar, who won the seat in 2009 by just under 2,000 votes over Liberal candidate Jagmohan Singh, but "I run for things. I am running for the future of the South Fraser region, for Surrey, for Langley and for Vancouver.

"I have a message for Adrian Dix," he said. "Every good government needs good opposition, and I am going to work very hard to make sure you continue to play that role."

Fassbender has been mayor of the City of Langley since 2005, and served one term on council prior to that. He also previously served as a school trustee in Langley. He is retired from the advertising agency business.

A large crowd was on hand for his announcement at Fleetwood Community Centre, including MLAs Stephanie Cadieux, Rich Coleman and Mary Polak, Abbotsford South Liberal candidate Darryl Plecas, former Liberal MP (and former Surrey-Panorama candidate) Sukh Dhaliwal, former Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Brenda Locke, former Surrey Social Credit MLA Bill Reid, Langley City Councillor Teri James, Langley RCMP Insp. Amrik Virk, and numerous members of the Langley business community.

Cadieux hinted at the challenges the BC Liberals have in winning the eight Surrey seats, stating that Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg has his riding "well under control," but adding that the Liberals need to work hard to win seats north of Highway 10.

- with files from Frank Bucholtz

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