Election 2014: ‘Unelection campaign’ begins in Langley Township

Citizens frustrated with council process and decisions come together to form "Unelection" group and set up website.

The 2014 Langley Township municipal election will feature an active effort by a new “Unelection Campaign” to get voters to defeat five incumbent members of council.

The Unelection Campaign launched its website on Monday, and issued a press release about its intentions. The four identified members of the Unelection executive are Andy Schildhorn, Lee Lockwood, Anna R. (who refuses to give her last name) and Bob Duncan.

Schildhorn was part of a committee that filed and won a lawsuit against Langley Township’s approval of the Coulter Berry building in Fort Langley. That victory has now been overturned in court, and the building is under construction.

Lockwood, an Aldergrove resident, has been involved in a number of issues over the year, primarily involving rural and transportation issues.

Duncan was part of a campaign against Athenry Development’s plans for a multifamily residential development on property adjacent to Willoughby Hall on 208 Street, citing the effect on neighbours to the north with single-family homes. The development is underway, and part of it involved relocation and renovation of Willoughby Hall.

“Anna R.” was one of a large number of Brookswood and Fernridge residents who fought against a proposed Official Community Plan for the area, one that council voted against after several days of public hearings. A new plan is expected in the future and many residents are wary of what it will contain.

The Unelection Campaign has rated the nine members of council, based on their voting records. It gives Mayor Jack Froese and Councillors Grant Ward, Charlie Fox, Bev Dornan and Steve Ferguson “Fs.”

Councillors Michelle Sparrow and Bob Long received “C-” marks, while Councillors Kim Richter and David Davis received “Bs.”

Schildhorn said its purpose is to give residents a site where they can look at voting records, and to rate candidates for council who come forward.

“People don’t really look at the voting records of incumbents,” he said.

Schildhorn said the group came together after meeting each other at public hearings, and “feeling disenfranchised. Council was not listening to what we were saying. We felt council was plowing ahead without listening to what people were saying.”

Schildhorn was a member of Live Langley, which has stated it will run candidates in the 2014 election, but no longer is involved with the group.

He says “I have no favourites” when it comes to new candidates seeking council seats.

“We have different opinions on issues affecting the Township, but we agree on one common idea … our elected municipal council has the responsibility to respect and listen to community input and make decisions that will benefit the whole before the one,” the website states.

“We have joined together with the goal of helping the voters of our community decide who they want to have representing them by providing factual information based on the current council’s past performance. We also will be looking at all newly declared candidates’ qualifications and ask tough questions related to their stand on the issues.”

Schildhorn said one of the goals is to improve voter turnout. The website also encourages people to gather information on candidates and choose which ones they want to vote for, and vote for only the candidates they favour, even if that number is less than eight.

The website, located at www.unelectioncampaign.ca, also lists 14 contentious issues in the Township, ranging from the Coulter Berry building and Brookswood plan to plans for development on the Wall farm and Tuscan Gardens properties, both located in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

It also lists major donors to incumbents’ campaigns in the 2011  election.

The municipal election takes place Saturday, Nov. 15. For the first time, voters will elect the mayor and councillors to four-year terms.

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