Shortly after she won the mayor’s chair in Langley City, Val van den Broek and her husband Rob were retrieving campaign signs when they noticed someone had taped an envelope to one.
It was addressed to “Mayor Val,” and went on to congratulate her for her victory.
“We look forward to the next four years,” the note inside said.
For van den Broek, it was an example of the ground-level support that saw the one-term councillor edge veteran campaigner and former City mayor Peter Fassbender.
She was elected with 2,446 votes or 50 per cent of the ballots, ahead of Fassbender, who finished a close second with 2,240 votes, 45.8 per cent (Serena Oh was third with three per cent).
“I’m proud of myself,” van den Broek said.
“I worked hard.”
On Monday, van den Broek was in the mayor’s office at City hall, working to get ready for her swearing-in on Nov. 5.
“I have a huge learning curve,” she said.
She took a moment to have her picture taken in the mayor’s chair in council chambers.
“I never thought I’d be sitting here,” she said.
“Not this early.”
It was a long and sometimes grueling campaign that got her there, and it didn’t help that she was coping with chronic pain from a hiatus hernia that, while not life-threatening, was tiring.
Now that the election is over, she will have time for some medical tests.
“They’re going to do a scope and everything,” van den Broek said.
She credits her husband Rob, who she said supported her decision to run “150 per cent” and made sure that she remembered to rest and eat during the run-up to the Oct. 20 vote.
During the campaign, she said it was his belief that she could win that kept her going.
When van den Broek announced she was running to succeed outgoing mayor Ted Schaffer, who stepped down for health reasons, the incumbent chose to be neutral because Coun. Paul Albrecht also announced he would be running for mayor.
Then, when Fassbender announced he would be attempting to get his old job back following his detour into provincial politics, Albrecht withdrew his name and Schaffer announced he would support van den Broek.
On the day van den Broek signed her papers at City hall, Schaffer, her husband and former City Councillor Terry Smith were at her side.
The new mayor said her style will be similar in many respects to Schaffer, whom she praises for having a warm, human approach.
“You can still be nice and sweet and get things done,” van den Broek said.
She plans to keep in touch with Schaffer going forward.
“He’s on my speed dial.”
The mayor-elect is talking about building on the progress that has been made over the last few years, not a dramatic change of direction.
Her campaign focus was on transportation, revitalization, social issues and collaborating with other levels of government, community partners, and local businesses.
“By refreshing playgrounds, parks, nature trails, creating dog parks and community gardens we will provide positive spaces to foster positive relationships,” van den Broek said.
She is a proud Langley City booster who has lived here since 2000, calling it “an amazing place” and promising to continue its progress and make sure residents are proud of where they live.
“This is the job for me,’ van den Broek said.