Elections

Froese seeks to return formality to council chamber

Jack Froese - Langley Times photo
Jack Froese
— image credit: Langley Times photo

Sitting in the gallery at a number of public council meetings this year, Langley Township mayoral candidate Jack Froese would have witnessed how meeting decorum disintegrated, both at the council table and in the gallery.

What he saw helped fashion his sense of what must be done.

“One thing I’ve been looking at is that local government is consensus building in nature, not adversarial,” he said.

“The big difference is that in local government the duty of the mayor is to reflect and support the will of council,” Froese said, adding that that doesn’t mean sacrificing good discussion, voting on an issue and then moving on to the next.

“What I’ve seen over the past few years is issues that are not laid to rest.”

He would like to see more formality in the council chamber.

Shouting and name calling can intimidate people to the point where they are afraid to address council, and he said that what is needed is a mayor in control.

“As mayor, as the person chairing a meeting, you need to call for order and keep control, even if it means terminating the meeting,” he said.

Noting that municipal staff must abide by rules of conduct, Froese said that the same code should apply to elected officials and people in the public gallery.

“I look at that as a way to restore order,” he said.

Regarding the Township getting value for TransLink dollars, Froese called it “an interesting and complex situation.”

He noted that TransLink involves many jurisdictions and what Langley pays goes toward services across the region.

The dilemma, he said, “is supporting projects in other areas with the expectation that we will get ours in time.”

Froese believes that Langley has lost infrastructure projects “because of what I perceive to be a breakdown in communications.”

He said that one way Langley could get more from its contribution is through a closer alliance with mayors south of the Fraser, “possibly leading to discussions on a South of Fraser regional district.”

“Part of the problem is that because Langley is so rural, it’s difficult to get transit there (but) you can’t run empty buses.”

What it boils down to, Froese said, “is getting people to support transit.”

When it comes to keeping property taxes at or below two per cent, Froese said that is one of Langley’s many challenges.

“We get lost in the whole rhetoric,” he said.

“Do we keep spending to no more than two per cent?” he said.

“That is the real question,” he said, adding that “politicians tend to put it into sound bites.”

“If we want to keep spending to the rate of inflation we have to make sure that our budget isn’t increased by more than that, or we have to raise taxes.”

Encouraging more economic development to bring in more businesses that will increase property tax revenue is important, but, he added, the Township’s role in setting out how much property tax residents will pay is influenced by wage contracts that are negotiated regionally, not locally, and the trend towards staffing fire halls around the clock.

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