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Abby taxpayers take aim at council
Disgruntled taxpayers in Kentucky, fed up with perceived waste in government, recently elected the first "Tea Party" Senator, Rand Paul. That same month Toronto city taxpayers elected Rob Ford as Mayor for the same reasons — they are fed up with the status quo of government spending and taxation.
A growing group of Abbotsford city taxpayers is hoping to tap into that same public sentiment in time for the civic elections this November.
The Feb. 23 public meeting of the Abbotsford Rural Ratepayers (ARR) at Bradner Hall attracted several dozen residents who pledged to work together to field candidates for council as well as work to increase voter turnout in November.
"We are looking for two to four quality candidates who are well-versed and connected with the community, who we will campaign for," said Daren Alary, who chaired the ARR meeting.
He observed that traditionally about 7,000 votes are needed to be successful in a run for Abbotsford council and admitted that this will "be a challenge."
Alary said that "running a city is difficult," but, "my biggest beef is simply the money. We need financial responsibility... taxes should not be raised above inflation."
An open floor session followed during which a number of those present stated their intention to run as candidates in November.
These prospective candidates included Doug Parton, a notary public and property manager who described himself as "very conservative." He is a former Reform Party campaign manager, and Parton said he would model himself after retired Reform MP Randy White.
Vince Dimanno, the Abbotsford Ratepayers president who led the campaign against the Plan A referendum in 2006, said he will also be running. He said that Abbotsford has become one of the "most expensive places in B.C., second only to West Vancouver" and that the cumulative 40 per cent increase in property taxes in recent years is "the straw that broke the camel's back."
James Breckenridge said he was a chartered accountant and that he "will run again for council" on the issue of "financial transparency."
Chiropractor Bruce Banman said, "Plan A (the arena and arts centre) is here and somehow we have to make it work." However, "We've spent $100 million on 'I wants' instead of 'I needs' and it's not sustainable to keep asking for more money. We can't leave this mess to our grandkids."
Curtis DeFehr said he is motivated by his anger of the closure of the Matsqui Village outdoor pool while millions were spent elsewhere and said he will run for mayor.
Doris Woodman-McMillan is a bookkeeper and treasurer for the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce who plans to run for council.
"There is very little business sense at the council table," she said. "Having staff run council is backwards; it should be council telling staff what they expect."
Josh Hoekstra, a UFV student, said he had been dismayed to find in the last election that few students had bothered to vote. He vowed to "raise awareness at UFV" to turn this voter apathy around.
Alary said that the ARR will continue to meet over coming months to decide on which candidates they would support and to develop an election strategy.