Election battle lines drawn
The battle lines for the 2011 Langley Township council election have been clearly drawn. There may be some more adjusting, but what now seems obvious is that there will be two groups of candidates going head-to-head, with a few other candidates trying to come up the middle.
Mayor Rick Green has assembled a group of candidates who will run under the Vote Langley Now (VLN) banner. While they are calling themselves independent, the true test comes in two areas — the financing and running of the campaign, and the voting pattern of any successfiul VLN candidates.
His opponents, whom he has identified as all members of council except Councillor Mel Kositsky, are running thus far as independents. Clearly there is a fair amount of co-operation among most of them. Some of them say that Langley Township voters won’t vote for slates, and there is some truth in that. However, I think the aversion to slates, which arose largely because of the controversial approach to municipal politics by the Langley Leadership Team from 1996-99, has at least partially dissipated.
In the 2006 election, some of the individual councillors who now oppose Green were accused of being part of a “silent slate” that was totally loyal to then-mayor Kurt Alberts.
Councillor Bob Long has already stated that he is not part of any coalition of council members who oppose the mayor. His voting pattern bears this out, as he has broken with the council majority on a number of issues. Councillor Kim Richter will certainly not be part of any group, because she is as fiercely independent as they come. She spent much of the 2006-09 council term battling with the same people whom she occasionally allies herself with at present.
That leaves Councillors Charlie Fox, Jordan Bateman, Grant Ward, Steve Ferguson and Bev Dornan. These five have worked and voted together most of the time in the past two and one-half years. All are also active and enthusiastic supporters of the provincial Liberals and, in particular, Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman.
I would be surprised if they choose to run together in a formal alliance, but it is very likely that they will be soliciting donations from the same donors, and they may well co-ordinate some aspects of their campaigns.
Newcomer Michelle Sparrow, 2009 candidate Sukhi Dhami and mayoral candidate Jack Froese could end up working more closely with some or all of these five incumbents. Or they may choose to stay above the fray.
The election might shape up as Green and his seven VLN candidates being challenged by an informal grouping of Froese, five incumbent councillors, along with Sparrow and Dhami.
Seeking re-election as well will be Kositsky, Long and Richter. Newcomer Bert Chen has announced he is running as well.
I expect there will be several other candidates seeking a seat on Township council. Their announcements will likely come in September.
Langley Township voters will have some very clear choices in front of them in the 2011 election, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19.