Incumbent politicians are the most difficult to defeat, and so when newcomer Rick Green unseated the popular incumbent Kurt Alberts in 2008, it changed the face of politics in Langley.
Things immediately turned ugly, and that’s when the gloves came off for the 2011 civic campaign.
But Green is counting on his lengthy experience in the private sector to retain his seat.
Green and a majority of councillors sometimes called the ‘six pack’ have frequently been at loggerheads and the lid blew off the cauldron when Green was investigated by the RCMP for violating privacy laws. The report on the probe landed in the lap of a special prosecutor, who ruled that there was no substantial likelihood of a conviction.
That did not spell the end of Green’s troubles. In October, council voted to release the Lidstone Report which concluded that Green misled council over when and how his office was broken into, and who was responsible for delivering those documents anonymously to his rural mailbox, and when he had actually been aware of their contents.
He rejected calls for his resignation.
Civility all but vanished from council chambers.
Green said this of the past three years: “I decided to run for the mayor’s office after considerable dissatisfaction on my part and the part of my friends and residents in the Township. I have had considerable political experience in the past and I was looking forward to changing the direction the Township was going in, in community planning, taxation, spending, management and property portfolio.
“I came into the job eager to fulfill the changes I had promised; I was very disappointed immediately after the election by one councillor who said it would be business as usual and there would be no change. I was equally disappointed that there have been considerable roadblocks on the part of council for that change.”
He called the Nov. 19 vote “a watershed election and it’s going to be up to the voters in the Township to decide if they truly want change in our community.”
The lack of civility has spilled over to the public gallery, with yelling and insults coming from the gallery, and speakers refusing to respect the five-minute limit on their presentations.
Rudeness “is not rampant, and we should not impose rules against 98 per cent of the people because of the one or two per cent who abuse the process,” Green said.
During his term, there have been several public hearings which generated controversy but, Green added, “it’s not for us to govern their (public’s) emotions because emotions are part of their presentations. It’s democracy.”
On what he would do to keep property taxes at no more than two per cent, Green said that his platform, and that of his Vote Langley Now team, is to have no increase for the next three years.
This can be achieved through a committee of finance, a value for money performance audit, and a property endowment fund.
“I have significant corporate experience operating a multi-million dollar company of my own, with three unions and a million dollar payroll, and I have been able to secure the knowledge from that corporate experience and three years of seeing how budgets have been generated at the municipal Township level,” Green said.
“I am absolutely confident that this is achievable.”
It does not require cutting services, only finding efficiencies in operations and capital projects, he added.
As for the Township receiving more value for its TransLink funding, Green said that will take strong leadership at the authority’s Council of Mayors.
That means a change to the current practice of the Mayors’ Council being asked to support a funding package of pre-determined service improvements which the mayors had no hand in preparing.
“That is what we (the mayors) collectively want to change,” Green said.