The race to become the next mayor of Langley Township got underway this week as Councillor Blair Whitmarsh announced he will run for the position.
“With eight years of experience on Township council, a deep commitment to public engagement, and a strong desire to serve the community, I am ready to serve the Township as mayor,” Whitmarsh said.
A two-term councillor, Whitmarsh said that last fall he made up his mind that he would run for mayor if current Mayor Jack Froese decided not to seek a fourth term. Froese announced last week that he’s going to be retiring at the end of his current term.
“This is something that I’d been thinking about for a few years,” Whitmarsh said.
Although he isn’t contemplating creating an official slate or a municipal political party, Whitmarsh said he won’t be running alone.
“There will be some people that will run alongside me as part of a team,” Whitmarsh said.
He described the group as “independent thinkers working together,” and said they will be announcing themselves as the election date in October approaches.
Whitmarsh said if he wins election as mayor, he wants to employ a “consensus-building style of leadership” and develop a healthy environment for council and Township staff.
He noted that the next council will be different from the current one, as there will definitely be a different mayor and likely a few different councillors.
“I’m very happy to work with everyone that’s on council,” he said.
On policies, Whitmarsh emphasized several key themes, including smart development, a diversity of housing types, and job creation.
“We have to create an environment in which businesses… they want to come to Langley and make Langley their home,” he said.
Cutting red tape and making it easier for small and medium businesses to establish themselves would be a priority, Whitmarsh said.
He also wants to increase the amount of industrial land in the Township, and use what is here more efficiently.
“We do have to think of going up,” he said of industrial development, with larger and taller facilities, instead of sprawling one-storey facilities.
Other themes included safe neighbourhoods, maintaining healthy relationships with other municipalities and community partners, creating outstanding sports and arts facilities, and financial stewardship, Whitmarsh said.
In his announcement that he is running, Whitmarsh was endorsed by Phil Jackman, a longtime local businessman and volunteer.
“I have known Blair Whitmarsh for years as a friend and as a dedicated volunteer for our community,” Jackman said in the announcement. “His efforts, dedication and honesty towards making Langley a better place has been incredible.”
Whitmarsh is the dean of the School of Human Kinetics and Athletics at Trinity Western University, and said he’ll be stepping back from the role starting in May while he runs for the job of mayor. He arrived in Langley 38 years ago as a student at TWU and decided to stay in the community.
Whitmarsh joined the TWU faculty in 1996, and became a dean in 2005. Before he was elected to council, he was involved with some design and planning elements of the Langley Events Centre through the TWU athletics faculty.
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