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Langley Township council sees big changes with slate, new members

There are only three incumbents on the incoming council
Councillor-elect Barb Martens, left, with incoming mayor Eric Woodward on election night. Martens received more votes than any other candidate in the Township council elections. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

The new Langley Township council will have a mix of incumbent members and newcomers, slate members and independents.

Topping the polls on Oct. 15 was Barb Martens, a member of mayor-elect Eric Woodward’s Contract with Langley slate, and a former longtime Vancouver Police Department officer.

She said getting the most votes was unexpected.

“I’m completely humbled by the outcome,” Martens said.

She attributed a big part of her success to the whole slate and its platform. Martens was one of five out of the six Contract with Langley members who secured council seats.

“People want change, they want things done, they want streets fixed and proper facilities,” she said.

She’s also a longtime Langley resident who has worked most of her life in public service, and that has meant she has connected with a wide range of people around Langley, Martens said.

She said the election of a Contract with Langley majority was a reaction to a need for change. Past councils have served Langley, but there was a need to move away from the status quo, she said.

“Infrastructure is huge,” she said of her top priority once the new council is sworn in in early November.

A lack of facilities is key, something she says she understands as a parent.

READ ALSO: Contract with Langley takes three seats on school board

Preparing for SkyTrain’s arrival in Langley is also going to be on the table, she said.

“We’ve got five years until SkyTrain comes,” she said.

With three independents on council, she said she is looking forward to working with them, and singled out Coun. Kim Richter in particular.

“I consider her to be a trailblazer,” for women in Langley politics, said Martens.

Also serving with Contract with Langley will be project manager Misty Van Popta, longtime incumbent Steve Ferguson, retired firefighter Tim Baillie, and farmer and distiller Rob Rindt.

The newest independent on council will be Michael Pratt, who is best known in Langley for his work spearheading a memorial to Canada’s war dead in Afghanistan, which was built in the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

After finishing 10th in the 2018 election, Pratt was eighth this year.

“I’ve never been happier to come in eighth place in anything in my life,” Pratt said.

He said it was an honour to be elected. His campaign team worked their tails off, but because they didn’t have the money for polling, he didn’t really know how he would do until the votes were tallied.

“It’s not a job that I take lightly,” he said.

Pratt wants to deal with the water situation in North Langley, proper staffing for the Fire Department, and a new master transportation plan for the whole Township, among other priorities.

“Being an independent means I’m going to have be open minded,” he said.

Also returning as an independent and an incumbent is Coun. Margaret Kunst.

“I’m excited for a new council and what’s in store,” she said.

She said she can work with a slate, and is always willing to vote for good ideas.

Like other candidates, she cited the Township Fire Department as in need of more resources for the fast-growing community.

As for why she was elected, Kunst said she ran a clean campaign and spent a lot of time going door to door, talking to people in person.

She said she likes to think people trust her.

“I’m humbled by that,” she said.

The remaining independent elected is Coun. Kim Richter, who was first elected in 1999.

Only Ferguson, who joined Contract with Langley, has served more terms in office on the Township council.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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