No return to provincial politics while mayor, Fassbender promises

Former mayor says his time in cabinet has given him an improved ability to negotiate

Peter Fassbender has heard speculation that if he wins the Langley City mayor’s job, he might leave it for provincial politics if there was a B.C. election, and he wants to make it very clear that won’t happen.

“I will be here for the full term,” Fassbender said.

Fassbender stepped down part way through his term as Langley City mayor when he was elected MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood in the 2013 provincial election. He was Minister of Education, then served as minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and minister responsible for TransLink.

READ MORE: Fassbender wins Surrey-Fleetwood seat

During the most recent provincial election, he was defeated by the NDP candidate.

Now, the Langley resident is looking to get his old job back.

When asked if he is re-connecting with Langley City voters, Fassbender corrects the questioner.

“I don’t think I ever lost that connection.”

Fassbender said he has been connecting with residents, one door at a time, going out daily to knock on doors and introduce himself as the candidate for mayor.

Most people don’t have too much trouble recognizing him.

He has run into the occasional teacher who is not a fan of the former provincial minister, but Fassbender says most people, even the critics, are “very pleasant, very courteous” as they explain they won’t be voting for him.

“I did not do anything against teachers, he said, pointing out that he was able to negotiate a six-year contract, the longest agreement ever reached with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation

“The key is negotiated and longest,” he said.

There are some advantages, Fassbender said, to having a mayor with inside knowledge of how the provincial and federal governments operate.

He was no stranger to dealing with senior levels of government before, but his time as education minister in cabinet has “refined my perspective.”

When he talks about transportation, for instance it’s with the perspective of the minister responsible for TransLink.

He says he is “leaning” toward supporting SkyTrain over LRT to Langley.

While it might be more expensive to build, it will be “much more efficient” at moving people in the long run.

“We need to look 20 to 30 years in the future.”

LRT makes sense in downtown cores like Surrey’s, not so much in Langley, he thinks, but he is reserving judgment pending more information.

“I have not seen the final business case,” he said.

His campaign slogan is “Proven Record — Strong Vision,” seen on his signs and his website,

While Fassbender’s prior experience and name recognition would appear to make him the front-runner in the campaign, he said he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I do not assume anything,” he said.

The issue of homelessness is something that comes up at almost every door stop conversation Fassbender has had since his campaign got underway.

“Virtually at every door,” Fassbender said.

People want solutions, he says, but they are hard to find.

He thinks one approach that might help is to make housing more affordable by encouraging construction of more stock to drive prices down.

His campaign announcement said that part of his platform is to ensure that the City of Langley continues to be a strong voice in the region.

“With the number of new mayors and councillors in Metro Vancouver, it will be important to have strong and visionary leadership at the many regional tables, including the mayors council for TransLink,” Fassbender said.

“We are at a critical time in the province and region when it comes to issues of transportation; housing supply and affordability; homelessness and the opioid crisis to name only a few,” Fassbender said.

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