When the phone call came in from Ted Schaffer congratulating her as the new Langley City mayor, Val van den Broek thought he was playing a practical joke.
“I kept telling him, ‘You’re lying, you’re lying’,” she told Black Press just minutes after the results came in.
“No, it’s true. You really are the next mayor,” Schaffer told her. Then, as the continued proclamations of sincerity began to resonate, she said the reality began to sink in that she was the new mayor-elect.
The 45-year-old federal public servant with the RCMP took close to half of the votes cast in today’s civic election.
I’m so, so excited,” van den Broek said from her home, where she was celebrating with her husband, dogs, and a few close friends.
“I can’t believe it,” she added. “We worked really hard for months, and the hard work paid off, I’m so super excited.”
Immediately after learning of her victory, “the one think that I kept thinking about is… my mom would be so very proud of me. I lost her a little less than a year ago, on Halloween. And this was really, not all for her, but the majority was for her because she really wanted me to do this – because she knew I’d be the best at it and it’s what I really wanted. And she challenged me.”
Asked if she was surprised by the results, van den Broek said, “I am. My husband kept telling me ‘you’re going to win, you’re going to win. Everybody loves you. You’ve still got your connections.’
“But I kept saying ‘I’m up against a giant. You know. And Peter really is, he’s a giant and I wish him all the best. But voters decided, and that’s democracy.”
Van den Broek said both the top mayoral candidates fought a hard race, and she wished Fassbender well.
Looking at the rest of the winning candidates, she described them as a “really good council. I’m really looking forward to working with everybody.”
While door knocking, she heard lots of concerns about the homelessness issues and transportation, both subject she plans to focus her attention on.
“I’m also looking forward to continuing what we started the last four years, and yeah, just go forward with that. The parks and continue with that, and the revitalization and continue with the infrastructure, and all that. I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
“I just let people talk, I explained my experience and who I was and what I wanted to do, and the voters decided, and I’m very happy about that.”
Only having had one day off since the end of August, she said the next few days will be spent relaxing, sleeping, and relishing her victory.
She stayed home tonight because fireworks scare their dogs. But, from home base – once she received the initial call from Schaffer – she watched as her Facebook feed lit up from hundreds of well wishers and struggled to keep up with the incoming phone calls.
She was out front of two local grocery stores earlier in the day, encouraging people to get out and vote, and one of the most memorable moments of her entire campaign came when a young girl came up less than an hour before the polls closed, “High fiving me for running for mayor. For me, that was awesome… just teaching little girls that they can do anything and be anything they want. I just love that, and it made me feel really, really good about what I was doing – regardless of the outcome.”