Mel Kositsky entered the 2011 race for mayor of Langley Township with nearly two decades of experience in municipal politics.
First elected 18 years ago, he has won consecutive elections, honing his skills in municipal law and protocol as he was appointed to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, and the Lower Mainland Municipal Association, now known as the lower Mainland Local Government Association.
His association with FCM led him to travel to the Philippines, where his role was to show the city of San Fernando how it can improve the way it governs.
In his role as councillor and Township representative, Kositsky has worked with a diverse groups of people, often bringing together people who have never spoken to each other, to come up with solutions to problems.
“I have earned the respect of my colleagues and peers, and I have been consistently elected to represent them,” he said.
“I know how to bring people together to focus on the issue at hand and come up with a possible solution, and move on.”
Asked how, if he becomes the Township’s new mayor, he will restore civility to civil government, Kositsky said it comes down to “respect and trust for everyone,” even if there is disagreement among them.
He noted that there are guidelines which, if followed, make for an effective council session.
When they are not, decorum disintegrates.
“What’s been happening is that we have been making news for all the wrong reasons,” Kositsky said.
“I think I have the leadership skills to bring people back and I know how to run a meeting,” he added.
Issues have emerged that have pitted residents against council over school issues, and they could be avoided if the Township and school district resume the regular meetings that used to occur between council and trustees. Staff from the Township and district do meet, “but you build relationships at the political level and that can be achieved by regular meetings between Township council and the board of eduction.”
On keeping property taxes at or below two per cent during challenging economic times, Kositsky replied: “You can’t promise a specific figure.”
Noting the current difficult world economic situation, Kositsky said that as mayor, he would call in financial experts and hold public meetings that would ultimately lead to a long-term financial and tax strategy.
On the widespread view that Langley does not get value for the money it contributes to public transportation, Kositsky points out that Langley already benefits in many ways, and there are more services to come. TransLink funds Langley’s major roads, including 16 Avenue. Projects that will benefit Langley soon are the park and ride at 86 Avenue and 200 Street, the express bus from there to Lougheed SkyTrain station, and a bus service linking Langley and White Rock via Campbell Heights that will run every 30 minutes.
“We are getting good value, and we have one of the best co-operative systems,” Kositsky said.
When public outcry prompted TransLink to scotch plan for a parking tax and vehicle levy, it limited sources of funding for regional improvements, he pointed out.