Langley voters decided that 2022 was going to be a year of change when it came to municipal politics.
In the Oct. 15 elections, new mayors were elected in both City and Township, and there was a significant amount of change in who was sitting around the council tables, and at the school board, as well.
In Langley City, Nathan Pachal successfully jumped from his job as a councillor to the mayor’s chair, defeating one-term mayor Val van den Broek. Pachal took 64 per cent of the vote.
Van den Broek had been censured by her own council on May 10 for “bullying” an unnamed staffer. She had accused the council of bullying and harassing her in turn.
“I have been constantly on the defensive with this council,” she said during an election debate.
Pachal didn’t raise the issue directly, but spoke during debates about taking all council members’ views seriously, and building consensus.
Pachal has long been a policy-focused politician, interested in urban planning and transit issues. He came to public attention with a blog and activism on those issues before winning a byelection to City council in 20
Beyond the change in mayor, there was a significant shift in the makeup of the council. Mike Solyom, Leith White, and Delaney Mack all joined the council.
Meanwhile, longtime incumbents Rudy Storteboom and Gayle Martin were defeated.
Storteboom noted he has the “dubious distinction” of having lost three City elections, perhaps the most of any council member in City history.
The Township saw an even more significant change.
But for the first time in more than 20 years, two slates faced off vying for control of the Township council.
One-term councillor Eric Woodward put together Contract with Langley, while former longtime Liberal MLA Rich Coleman pulled together a slate called Elevate Langley. They were challenged by Coun. Blair Whitmarsh, and former councillor Michelle Sparrow, and a host of independents also ran for council.
In the end, Woodward’s Contract with Langley team was dominant, with all but one of his slate members winning a seat, and securing six of the nine total seats on council, including the mayor’s chair.
Whitmarsh would take the second-highest number of votes, while Coleman was third, polling surprisingly poorly after decades of winning at the provincial level, before he stepped down as MLA in 2020.
Woodward had run on a detailed platform that included everything from a new pool in Willoughby to road widening, streamlining development processes, and adding parks and rec facilities.
“We’re going to get underway very quickly on all of them,” Woodward said, a prediction that proved true over the council meetings of November and December, as a flurry of motions was passed.
Along with the Contract with Langley team, veteran Coun. Kim Richter retained her seat, as did Coun. Margaret Kunst. Newcomer Michael Pratt became the youngest member of the council.
Both councils were preparing to deal with the impacts of several years of extremely rapid population growth and high levels of construction, along with the arrival of SkyTrain in Langley in five years.
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