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Fassbender outlines his vision for City
When he first ran for council 12 years ago, Peter Fassbender hadn’t set his sights on the mayor’s chair.
“I had thought about it, but it wasn’t the goal,” said Fassbender, seated in the corner office he has occupied for the past six years.
But after running unsuccessfully in 1999 and being elected to council three years later, Fassbender was encouraged by then-mayor Marlene Grinnell to seek the job when she stepped down.
It was a challenge he welcomed then and one he still enjoys today.
As he seeks his third term as mayor of the City of Langley, Fassbender is standing on his record.
“The City of Langley lifts much above its weight because we have a vision and we’re marketing it,” said Fassbender.
The municipality is well-respected throughout the Lower Mainland for the way it does business, he added.
“We deliver on what we say. For me, that’s very satisfying.”
From the outset, Fassbender, a 35-year resident of the City who, with his wife Charlene, raised two sons in the community, had a vision for the downtown’s redevelopment and revitalization.
“We are an older community, both above and below ground,” he said.
In order to address the problems that come with aging infrastructure a plan had to be put in place.
“We needed to craft a concise and forward thinking vision,” Fassbender said.
More than a decade later, he’s satisfied with the results of those efforts, he said, adding that the Downtown Master Plan is moving along even more quickly than he could have imagined.
Much of that, he said, can be attributed to “a great staff and a council that’s willing to work together.
“Municipal politics are not partisan. You’re elected to be part of a team,” Fassbender said.
“If you’re elected in the City, you also have to have a regional view because we don’t live in isolation.”
During his time on council, Fassbender has represented the City on outside policing, transportation, libraries and health committees, among other responsibilities.
Currently, Fassbender is acting for all B.C. municipalities in the province’s ongoing negotiations with the RCMP. And while there is still work to be done, he said, progress is being made.
One area that remains a huge challenge, however, is moving people effectively around the Lower Mainland.
“Transportation is an issue we have to wrestle to the ground,” Fassbender said.
“Transportation is at the heart of a livable region, but the answers are not going to be easy,” he said.
Asked whether it is contentment or apathy in the City that leads to minimal public engagement and low voter turnout, Fassbender replied that it is a combination.
“I think it’s a bit of both. Controversy gets you noticed, but it hampers getting things done. I think there’s a fair amount of satisfaction (among City residents).”
Unfortunately, he added, when it comes to election time, that contentment translates into a poor turnout at the polls.
People will come out to vote against something a politician has done rather than for something they’ve achieved, he said.
“Does it concern me a little? Yeah, it does. But I’ll run the same campaign whether there is one candidate running or 10.”
“If someone just runs for whatever reason and doesn’t have a vision they can articulate, that’s a disservice to taxpayers.”
Fassbender cited his business background, experience as mayor and years of service on boards as attributes he brings to the job.
“I’m a consensus builder and a listener,” he added.
“I evaluate options, but I’m not afraid to make a decision. I’m a risk taker.”
Fassbender said he’s grateful to the community for the opportunity.
“It’s been a great ride, a lot of fun. There are good and bad days, but I don’t regret one second of the time I’ve committed to this at all.”
“I love my job, I love my community. If I haven’t proven that to people over 35 years — if I’ve not proven that I care about people — then I’ve failed miserably.”