Langley Township voters have elected three new faces to council, ousting incumbent councillors Grant Ward, Bev Dornan and Steve Ferguson and voting in Petrina Arnason, Blair Whitmarsh and Angie Quaale as their replacements.
Mayor Jack Froese was elected to a second term, fending off an attempted comeback by Rick Green, the mayor he defeated in 2011.
On election night, Froese celebrated his win with supporters at the Fort Langley Golf Club.
“Tonight the mayor’s office is signed, sealed and delivered,” Froese said.
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today, and today the voters went out and prepared for the future of Langley by having their voice and choosing who they want to be on council and to lead Langley.”
Froese praised the defeated incumbents as “good people who have served Langley for a long time and have done an excellent job.”
“I know Steve [Ferguson] has been the longest-serving councillor and worked hard all his career for Langley,” Froese said.
“Bev has put her heart and soul into it and Grant, another long-serving councillor, they have tried to make decisions that were in the best interests of the community and we’re going to miss that,” said Froese.
For the Unelection Campaign mounted by some local residents who wanted five of the incumbents gone, the results were not everything they were seeking, but they were still pleased.
“I think we were fairly successful” said Unelection spokesperson Andy Schildhorn, who noted that three of the candidates the group endorsed, David Davis, Kim Richter and Petrina Arnason, were among the top vote-getters, finishing first, second and fourth.
As well, the three defeated incumbents were among those given failing grades by the Unelection website, which recommended against voting for them.
Schildhorn told The Times the Unelection Campaign will continue, but could “morph” into something else over the next four years.
He wasn’t specific.
“We are here and we will be attending council meetings,” Schildhorn said.
The new faces on Langley Township council all attributed their victories to sustained, ground-level campaigning.
New councillor Arnason, who won on her third bid for office, said after the last election, she spent a lot of time working with community groups and attending council meetings to be ready for office.
“People know I will hit the ground running,” Arnason sad.
As a daughter of longtime Langley Township councillor Muriel Arnason, she said having “the Arnason DNA” helps, as well.
In response to a Times question, Arnason said she agrees with the suggestion the results represent a shift of emphasis toward limiting density and development and preserving the quality of life, especially in the rural neighbourhoods of Langley.
“I think it is a trend,” Arnason said, adding “that suits me because these are the values that I support.
“We want to be able to manage growth, we want to make sure we have a viable future.”
Going forward, she would like to see a “broader perspective” taken by council, working collaboratively with other agencies such as the Agricultural Land Commission.
Blair Whitmarsh was elected on his first attempt
“I started the work [on my campaign] a long time ago,” Whitmarsh said following his victory.
“I knew that I needed a lot of time to get my message out.”
Whitmarsh said developing a new official community plan in Brookswood, where residents rebelled at a proposal to increase density, and getting a new Aldergrove swimming pool are high priorities for him personally.
Angie Quaale also managed a win on her first attempt.
“I’ve been working on my campaign for over a year,” Quaale said.
“I didn’t just put my hand up and decide to run.”
Quaale thinks issues of the environment and pace of development have always been a concern, but the way the Township discusses those issues has changed.
“I think the shift has been the way council and the community will interact,” Quaale said.
She held seven community meetings throughout the Township during the election campaign and is promising to continue the practice.
“I’m really excited to get to work,” she said.
Election night results show mayor Froese won re-election with 13,186 votes, while challenger and former Township mayor, Rick Green, took 7,595.
A third candidate for mayor Serena Oh, received 1,255 votes.
David Davis topped the polls with 12,527 votes, while fellow councillors Kim Richter (11,415) and Charlie Fox (9,116) had little trouble holding onto their seats.
Receiving the fourth highest number of votes (8,930) was Arnason,
Incumbents Michelle Sparrow (8,598) and Bob Long (7,615) took the fifth and sixth spots, respectively, while the remaining two seats were captured by newcomers Whitmarsh (7,550) and Quaale (7,526).
Some Township residents noticed a slight glitch with voting machines and took to social media to joke about it on Saturday.
As ballots were inserted, an American flag popped up on the screen of each machine, which had been rented from a company in Omaha, Nebraska, along with a message thanking the person for voting.
Township of Langley returning officer Bob Wilson said he was aware of the problem, but it wasn’t discovered until about a week ago, too close to the election to fix.
During an earlier test run with a sample ballot, the U.S. flag did not appear, said Wilson.
Vote totals for the losing council candidates were:
Steve Ferguson, 7,377; Bev Dornan, 7,310; Clint Lee, 7,300; Dave Stark, 7,181; Kerri Ross, 7,181; Mel Kositsky, 6,012; Grant Ward, 5,899; Jackie Mandzak, 5,889; Kevin Mitchell, 5,537; Solon Bucholtz, 4,695; Scott Nichols, 3,765; Patricia Lessard, 2,317; Karl Buchanan, 1,508; Zosia Ettenberg, 1,436.
— with files from Brenda Anderson and James Inglis