Langley City Councillor Paul Albrecht has a different take on the controversy over the selection of fellow Councillor Gayle Martin to the Metro Vancouver board of directors in place of mayor Val van den Broek, saying he wasn’t asked why, and no behind-the-scene political battles were involved.
The vote was taken Nov. 2 during an in-camera meeting of council held by video conference.
Following the decision, the mayor went public and described it as the result of continued behind-the-scenes political battles that began when she was sworn in two years ago.
“I asked them why,” van den Broek told the Langley Advance Times.
“Nobody could give me a reason.”
Originally, Albrecht was reluctant to comment on the vote because it was a confidential, in-camera decision, but told the Dec. 7 meeting of council he was “compelled” to make a statement in response to “recent media reports as well as various articles.”
Albrecht began by saying “it needs to be noted the city has a history of councillors holding this role.”
Albrecht then explained that he voted for Martin to be the rep at the Metro board of directors, based on a number of factors including “council members workload, interest in the position, experience, knowledge, availability and even the COVID pandemic.”
“Most importantly, trust in our representative to act with integrity and professionalism,” Albrecht commented.
Albrecht said the position “is an honour – it is not a right, it is not assigned to a specific job title, it cannot be taken for granted or be a popularity contest.”
He described as “regrettable” that information from the closed in-camera meeting was made public, and added that he expected council “will likely review those circumstances.”
Albrecht appeared to contradict the mayor’s version of events, saying “I have never been asked why I voted as I did about our Metro representative.”
“I have not seen or heard any behind-the scenes-political battling,” Albrecht added.
At the end, Albrecht said he intended to “continue to work with everyone.”
Mayor van den Broek commented that she “will hold you all accountable for working together” then thanked Albrecht for his statement.
Since her surprise victory over former mayor Peter Fassbender in the 2018 municipal election, van den Broek said she has had difficulty working with some council members.
“Since day one,” van den Broek said, following the Metro selection decision. “Since my inauguration.”
“I’m not the mayor they wanted.”
Some of the conflict during closed-door sessions has amounted to “harassment and bullying,” the mayor maintained.
She said she was going public because she believes “citizens have a right to know.”
Up till the Nov. 2 vote, the mayor was the Langley City representative, and Martin was the alternate who attended Metro meetings when the mayor could not. Coun. Albrecht is the new alternate.
The City has one seat on the 40-member board.