A rally against Langley Township Mayor Rick Green fizzled on Friday.
Organizers Joe Zaccaria and Sukhi Dhami were joined by Bert Chen, Al Peterson and Patricia Revill outside the entrance to Township hall. One of their supporters, who would not give his name, and a man in a wheelchair who left after about 10 minutes, were joined by two reporters and one cameraman.
Councillor Grant Ward, who has been vocal in his opposition to the mayor since the day after Green ousted incumbent mayor Kurt Alberts in November, 2008, watched from a distance.
Zaccaria said he was not disappointed with the outcome.
“We had two people on Monday (when he and Dhami spoke at council calling on Green to step down while a special prosecutor reviews an RCMP probe into the mayor’s conduct). Today there were six or seven, next week will be 20, next month 200 and by the election, 2,000.”
Zaccaria said he and Dhami received “a lot of calls from people who told us that they support us but would not attend because they were intimidated because they felt there would be retaliation from the few vocal supporters out there who think that Rick Green can do no wrong.”
Chen recently declared his candidacy for Township council.
Zaccaria said that since he and Dhami appeared before council on July 11 asking Green to step aside “we have received an outpouring of grassroots support for our efforts.”
He accused Green of violating basic principles of governance, a fact which Zaccaria said was contained in a report by Alison Habkirk and Gerald Berry, consultants hired by the Township last year to review the duties and responsibilities of elected officials, as they relate to the Local Government Act and the Community Charter.
The consultants said in January that the relationship between Green and the rest of council had deteriorated so far that a workshop to help them address issues of contention was pointless.
Dhami called the response to the call for Green to stand down “overwhelming.”
He added: “We are also saddened by the many people who said they greatly support us, but feel intimidated by coming out and making their names and faces public. They are concerned that Mayor Green and a handful of his supporters will expose them to public ridicule.”
Chen, a newcomer to local politics, took a softer approach but came to the same conclusion: that Green should “heed the concerns of citizens here today.”
Chen said that since 2008, Green “has delivered results to our community (and) has never forgotten his role as mayor, and leader of our municipality.”
He said he wanted to be clear that he attended the rally “not to pass judgement and convict anyone. I am here to represent our democracy. I believe this is the cornerstone of our society, and we must all value and adhere to this.”
Saying he would never challenge the supremacy of democratic ideals, including that of innocence until guilt is proven, Chen implored Green “to reaffirm your commitment as our democratically elected mayor and heed the concerns of citizens here today.”
Green issued a statement through his office that he would not step down and was looking forward to the next election.