Jack Froese says the past “three years of blame and shame politics” of Township mayor Rick Green have motivated him to enter the election race.
Froese, a retired farmer and policeman, says he would bring “real business experience” and “effective communication skills” to the mayor’s office.
Speaking to a large crowd of supporters at the family’s JD Turkey Farms customer appreciation day on Otter Road on Saturday afternoon, Froese stressed the importance of independent thinking among councillors. Several incumbent councillors were there, including Kim Richter, Bev Dornan, Charlie Fox and Steve Ferguson, but Froese also drew attention to four new candidates in the crowd, Bert Chen, Suki Dhami, Michelle Sparrow and Misty VanPopta.
“To the best of my knowledge they’re not aligned with any slate,” said Froese. “Having new young innovative people on council will be good for Langley.”
He said leadership comes from the mayor but, “The mayor’s team is made up of individual councillors, elected by you, the voters. This is more suited to local government. Federal and provincial politics is typically adversarial but municipal politics is consensus building by nature.”
Froese says there are tough issues, foremost among them taxes.
“I’d love to promise you a zero per cent increase but the reality is we want better roads, clean water and parks,” said Froese. “These are financial challenges that impact taxes. But the Township has pared the budget to the bone, $1.4 million in cuts were found in the last budget. As mayor I will continue to look for efficiencies.”
However, he said, “Rick Green’s political games and the obvious disconnect has been unfortunate because taxpayers are losing out.”
Pointing to a current petition campaign for reunification of the Langleys, Froese said he would “welcome the city back but the city is not interested. We don’t want the city’s debt and they don’t want the township’s taxes.”
Froese cited the example of his master of ceremonies, Gary Johnson, who spearheaded the construction of the Gateway of Hope shelter for the Salvation Army.
“Gary doesn’t give up. For years he shared his dream. Then he met with leaders — MLA Mary Polak, mayors Peter Fassbender and Kurt Alberts, MLA Rich Coleman’s staff — and in one hour it was a done deal, the dream turned into reality.”
As mayor, Froese said he would seek to “bring the same spirit into one room” at yearly strategic planning sessions.
“Leaders take responsibility for actions and outcomes. If it didn’t work, own it, without blaming council and staff,” said Froese.
“As mayor, I will carry out the will of council and be accountable to voters. It’s about respect, and the buck stops here.”