Township of Langley Election Campaign 2014 Post-Mortem – Part ONE …. A lot happened, a sidebar, many questions and much to consider!

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

A little introspection into my decisions leading up to Municipal Election 2014, the decisions we made during the campaign and the interfering activities of others? What should you as a resident of the Township of Langley be concerned about moving forward?

The Two years leading up to Election 2014 –

As I have said many times before, I had no intention of running for office again. Despite being encouraged by others to get involved immediately after the 2011 election, I declined after all I had just made the decision to retire. While I was retired, the concerned resident (and retired politician) in me could not help but follow the controversial actions (a short list follows) of the elected Mayor (Froese) and Council over three years.

Coulter Berry Fort Langley

Brookswood OCP

Trinity University District / Wall – Metro dispute (more on this in a later post)

Willoughby – Non-existent Community Planning.

Glen Valley Forest sell-off

Aldergrove Creekside Forest sell-off

Aldergrove Pool / Rec facility debacle

….and much much more!!

I felt at the very least, in the absence of any respectable and responsible local media in the Township, all of this demanded a voice of conscience and communication of and to Township residents, – thus the launch of www.langleywatchdog.com in January of 2013.

Who was going to run for Mayor and Council in 2014?

As has been very clear through my BLOG Posts over two years leading up to Election 2014 I have been promoting the fact that NO CHANGE on Council would occur until all opposition representing each of our communities would unite into one common voice. I was thrilled when I heard about the creation of the unelection campaign, an organization that in my opinion, after looking at their very professional website and content, looked to be an effective voice of opposition. In an August BLOG Post I volunteered the fact that I was contacted and helped a number of individuals frequently, who it turns out were obviously playing an active part in this movement. So to those that would suggest somehow that I denied helping…. NOT TRUE!

The first question – who was going to run for Councilor? What started out being a concern to many (lack of names coming forward) as it turned out we (taxpayers) had a choice of a number of incredibly solid and professional candidates who would have represented Township of Langley residents exceptionally well. We hope a number of them run in 2018!

The second question – who was going to run for Mayor? No, in all honesty, I initially had no interest in running. Retirement, farm, family and the feeling I had done my part, will do that to you. We had approached a few very solid potential and very electable candidates, unfortunately after a number of conversations and some thorough discussions, it was the wrong time for a variety of reasons, some personal, some business. There is no question, it is a big commitment. So after considerable discussion with past supporters as well as many who had been lobbying me to do so and most important family (it was not a popular decision with the family) I agreed to enter the race. There was no way I was going to sit back and watch this Mayor get in by acclamation given his disastrous record and actions of the previous three years. I would also add, anyone with an ounce of political savvy knows that a Municipal Election without a viable Mayor’s race is a non-event! So at the very least I am proud of the fact that we seriously added to the debate, the public discourse, the need for accountability and I believe we added substantially to the unexpected campaign cost to the current Mayor, his development based supporters and some members of the elected Council.

Satisfaction does come in different forms.

An interesting sidebar leading up to filing my Nomination Papers!

What will be obvious to some and questionable to others my strategy was, IF I was to run it had to be confidential and a surprise. This move was to prevent what happened in 2011, that is, the establishment having a legitimate third candidate enter the race, all designed to split the vote. (Remember – June of 2011 Froese announces his run for Mayor / September of 2011 Kositsky enters the race. This wasn’t by accident, it was initiated given the negative polling results on Froese they had been receiving at the time.)

My Financial Agent filed my notarized papers with Chief Election Officer Mr. Bob Wilson on or about 3:25PM on October 10, 2014 (remember close of nominations was 4:00PM). Isn’t the Chief Election Officer and his staff independent of Township Administration? By 4:30 I was made aware of an email (sent 5 minutes after my filing) from Bob Wilson, Chief Election Officer to Mark Bakken Township CAO stating “Rick has filed for Mayor”!

The question  – WHY would he inform Mark Bakken? Bakken’s staff position should not have allowed him any privilege of information in advance. And you ask why did I announce late?

It is also interesting that the email was forwarded by Mark Bakken prior to nominations close to ALL members of Council.

Was Bob Wilson acting on orders of Mark Bakken? Just asking? Was this appropriate? If you believe there was nothing wrong with this action, ask yourself the question, where does right start and wrong kick in? Where does undue influence start and stop? Is there any other influence? I am just asking the question?

In any event, this was my strategy and on balance that was the correct one.

The Campaign itself:

From a personal campaign point of view it came together well. Unfortunately there were a variety of incidents that certainly leave one questioning the politics of the Township of Langley; and who is really behind the engine that runs the political train? Is it much different than what happens in other Municipalities? – In my 35 years of political experience, Yes, it is and it is getting worse to the detriment of all residents. Unfortunately the vast majority of residents are just not aware of what is really going on and who is really in control!  To start:

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s All Candidate Meeting – The Chamber of Commerce (otherwise known as the Establishment’s Political Farm Team) scheduled this All Candidates Meeting for the Tuesday immediately following close of nominations. It was clear that 90% or more of the tickets had been sold by Friday evening for what was clearly scheduled to be a Jack Froese love in. It was an interesting love-in to attend. Non-Partisan, not a chance!

The Coleman Factor (Is this not Political Interference?) – Now anyone that has read this blog from the start knows and understands why Mr. Coleman and I are and have been at odds (to put it mildly) over the past seven plus years. It was clear, going back to our first meeting in February of 2008, when in his words to me were “WE are OK with the job the Mayor is doing”, “WE are OK with the property deals” and “the CAO is a good friend of mine” that Rich Coleman and I were not and would not be on the same page. Unfortunately, some MLAs, take on an attitude of control over the Municipality/City they represent. They believe they are able to dictate what will or will not happen in the community they represent. Were there attempts to influence their Municipalities election outcome? You decide, just asking the question? www.langleywatchdog.com BLOG Posts are filled with reasons and rationale why this can only lead to unfair and undue influence by a member of a senior level of government. I am in fundamental disagreement with any kind of political interference by senior elected representatives. I believe this kind of influence is not healthy for good municipal governance. The Township of Langley has been governed for special interest groups for self-serving reasons for far too long and still is, much to it’s detriment.  So to the question – Should your MLA take an active partisan position in your Municipal Election? Is this what you elected your MLA to do? Remember your MLA once elected, represents ALL citizens in his/her constituency. That MLA is obligated by his/her position to work with whomever the residents of the respective municipality/City choose to elect. In all of this I am just posing the question? Are you going to continue to capitulate or are we going to finally develop a backbone and say no more?   Consider –

Rich Coleman Facebook – Rich Coleman Facebook campaign with messages of support for Jack Froese? Sent out and shared repeatedly throughout the campaign by his closest allies. Ask yourself the question, WHY would he care who was elected? Is this another “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours scenario?” Just asking the question? What could that be?

Rich Coleman ROBO Calls An extensive recorded telephone campaign (his voice) asking residents to vote in support of Jack Froese. Ask yourself the question, WHY would he care who was elected? Is this another “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours scenario?” Just asking the question? What could that be?

Rich Coleman / Mary Polak letter to Willoughby residents – One of the serious issues facing Willoughby residents is that of a shortage of School space meeting high growth needs. What exasperated everyone was the announcement out of the Ministry of Education just prior to the election campaign that the rules had changed – specifically that all School Districts must come up with 50% of the cost of NEW schools and they were NOT accepting any 5 Yr. Capital Plans for expansion. There is no other way but saying that the rules had changed just when Township residents needed help which was causing great concern for our Mayor. To the surprise of no one we then have a Mayor’s delegation meeting in Victoria with Minister and MLAs (you remember – Fassbender, Polak, Coleman are all old friends) announcing something but saying nothing. They had a great conversation, they will consider everything BUT there is no money available. On the heels of this non-announcement we have a letter from our two MLAs to residents of Willoughby making like we were on the verge of a solution. Now you don’t think this was an organized campaign of political speak do you – ie talk a lot and say nothing? By the way – Who paid for the letter? (Probably you and me as taxpayers)

More Political Interference from another source? – Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Election Day:

The Township of Langley used DS200 electronic voting (scanning) machines from ES&S for our 2014 elections. These machines were leased. It is surprising to many that there has been little to no challenges in the use of electronic voting machines (in general) in Canada given the very questionable performance issues that have been experienced in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. As some have noted, when you cast your ballot in the Township of Langley you do not expect a U.S. flag to appear on the screen before you which is what occurred in this election. In any event, the DS200 machines offer a paper ballot scanning system which provides a back-up of paper ballots in the case of a problem or a need to check. Reading material on-line about past incidents in the U.S. cannot help but give serious concern about the security of our election outcomes.

A paper trail is all well and good, unfortunately without a legislated opportunity to check (A Random manual count in 2 regular polls), a paper trail serves no useful purpose.

Please go into the following Computerworld on-line site to judge for yourself.

Go into the following link and you will understand why voters should hold some serious concern!

www.computerworld.com/article/2501005/technology-law-regulation/e-voting-machine-freezes–misreads-votes–u-s–agency-says.html

There were three incidents of concern relating to voting day and the Voting Machines –

  • The communication link between a large Aldergrove Poll and the Municipal Hall did not work and the memory stick had to be transported physically to the Municipal Hall for final count. (We understand there was no security nor witness to this physical transfer.)
  • There was an electrical problem at the WIX Brown Poll for a few hours in the morning of election day which required a technician. Is it possible this vote and or the machine count was affected before they got it up and running properly?
  • The communication link between a large Brookswood Poll and the Municipal Hall did not work and the memory stick had to be transported physically to the Municipal Hall for final count. (We understand there was no security nor witness to this physical transfer.)

An EASY solution re Voting Machines prior to the next election – Council should bring forward their by-laws covering electronic voting with an amendment that stipulates TWO regular polls (not advance or special) be randomly selected(through an independent selection process) and go through a manual recount. This should be mandatory in every election.   

Election Result:

The changes brought about in the final election result, was the result of the coming together of all communities in a focused way. It was absolutely instrumental in the defeat of three Councilors and the election of Petrina Arnason. Unfortunately I can’t help but add we elected one who is very closely affiliated with the current Mayor and another who is employed by Trinity Western University which has numerous partnerships and/or relationships with the Township of Langley. These two will require and will receive some very close scrutiny over the next four years.

Promises are made during an election, lets make sure that promises are kept! Having said that a review of most platforms show they are vague, and that is by political design. They are filled with platitudes that frankly can make you warm and fuzzy but are open to widespread interpretation. There lies the problem with politics! We made some good strides in Election 2014, lets improve on that for election 2018!

Post-Mortem Part TWO?

There was another very disturbing occurrence that happened during Campaign 2014. Stay tuned for the detail on that part of the Post Mortem! Coming in three days!

RG

Stay tuned for discussion of top of mind topics that directly affect us in the Township of Langley and our region to be published in the months ahead and much more….!

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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Comments
  1. gadfly says:

    Nothing surprises me any more.

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