Longtime Langley Township Councillor Mel Kositsky has officially confirmed that he is running for mayor.
Kositsky, 60, sent out a press release late Sunday night to make the word official. In late August, he said he was considering running for the position, and promised a decision before the first council meeting in September. Council met for the first time since July 25 on Monday.
He will be running against incumbent Rick Green and newcomer Jack Froese.
Green has assembled a group of candidates under the Vote Langley Now banner, while Froese is running as an independent. The Vote Langley Now group is running seven council candidates, and when the slate was unveiled in July, Green asked voters to save a vote for Kositsky.
“I did not know anything about the political rally in late July held by Mayor Green and his new political slate,” Kositsky said. “Neither Mayor Green nor any of his chosen seven candidates talked to me about their plans or invited me to that meeting. I was shocked to read about it on the Internet the next day.
“While I thank Mayor Green for his nice comments about me that night, I have always been an independent councillor and I will be running as an independent candidate for mayor.”
Kositsky has served 18 years on council, serving under three different mayors. He also ran in 2004 as an independent candidate for MP, in the first election where Langley formed a separate riding. He is a former reporter and editor with The Times.
“It takes a bit of courage to live your dream, and I have been studying and researching what makes a good mayor for a long time – and now it’s time to go for it,” said Kositsky. “It’s time to restore trust in our local government and show we are managing Langley Township well. And it’s time for some diplomacy at the council table.
“I am a coach and mentor — and would work closely with the newly-elected councillors to focus on the needs of the Township and preparing this community for the future. That is our main role — planning ahead to build a safe and healthy community, with a sound economic base.
“As the hub of the Fraser Valley between Surrey and Abbotsford, Langley Township should be known for its great development potential — not for its political battles at the council table. It has been very embarrassing, to say the least.
“Langley is a good place to do business and we welcome orderly and sustainable growth.
“We must continue to support our agricultural businesses and not make it more difficult to farm. About 75 per cent of our land base is still in the Agricultural Land Reserve and we have just agreed to a Regional Growth strategy.
“There is a long list of issues facing Langley Township in the next term. We will be negotiating new union contracts, and the one with the RCMP, and my experience in local government labour relations makes me an ideal candidate to lead that process.”
He said the next three years are going to be very challenging for local governments in dealing with provincial and federal governments.
“My strength in intergovernmental relations will help guide the next council through some difficult negotiations ahead. We finally have a period of stable governments in Victoria and Ottawa and I see an opportunity to get things done for our community.
“Having been elected by my peers in local government to serve on a number of local government boards, I have built relationships with politicians of all political stripes. It is the respect I have earned at those tables that will make it easier for me to negotiate on the Township’s behalf with other orders of government.
“My three-year contract with the people is up. People are telling me it’s time I ran for mayor. I will be asking Township residents to choose me on Nov. 19 to lead council through the next three years.
“It has been a great honour to serve this community as a councillor for the past 18 years and I thank the people of Langley Township for their trust and support. You have invested in my leadership training, and now it’s time for me to step up to the plate and bring back some civility and respect to our local government.”
Both Green and Froese welcome Kositsky’s entrance into the race for mayor.
“It adds a whole new dimension,” Green said. “I can’t wait for it to get underway.”
He said his Vote Langley Now group had never planned to run eight candidates for councillor, and he endorsed Kositsky for council in July “because Mel did not and has not participated in the political attacks, as other members of council have.”
Froese said “it’s good to see choice, and I welcome him into the race. He’s been around Langley for a long time, and democracy is all about choices.”
Froese believe Kositsky’s entrance into the race will likely boost voter turnout, which he considers “a win for Langley.”