‘Mild’ surprises in Langley election results

Some notable changes at both council tables

On a night of many surprising civic election results across the region, there were a few mild surprises in Langley as well.

Peter Fassbender failed in his attempt to become Langley City mayor again. While many expected a closer race, incumbent councillor Val van den Broek won the mayor’s chair by a healthy margin. She beat the former three-term mayor and one-term MLA by 206 votes.

Also surprising in the City was the defeat of longtime councillor Jack Arnold, who has been a fixture on council for more than two decades. He finished 11th out of the 16 candidates seeking election to the six councillors’ seats. Former councillors Rosemary Wallace and Teri James join the other four incumbents to form the next council.

A third surprise was the second defeat in a row for former school trustee Candy Ashdown. She finished third out of five candidates for the two Langley City positions on the board of education. Newcomer Tony Ward topped the polls, and incumbent trustee Shelley Coburn also won. Ashdown finished 61 votes behind Coburn.

Increased voter turnout in the City is a good thing. Turnout is often low in Langley City and was less than 23 per cent in 2014. The number of voters, based on preliminary reports, appears to have jumped by almost 650, from 4,187 in 2014 to 4,832 this year. The race for mayor was likely the biggest factor in boosting turnout.

There were also surprises in Langley Township. Many issues came up during the campaign, but no major ones seemed to stick in voters’ minds as voting day approaches. Seven of eight councillors were running again and it seemed unlikely that any would lose, although two former councillors were also in the race. There were 23 candidates and thus voters had many potential choices.

However, two incumbent councillors lost their seats. One-term councillor Angie Quaale came close, finishing ninth, 103 votes behind newcomer Margaret Kunst. Two-term councillor Michelle Sparrow finished 11th, almost 500 votes behind Quaale.

Of the newcomers, Eric Woodward had the most impressive finish – coming second in the polls, just 429 votes behind perennial poll-topper David Davis. He waged a very vigorous campaign and his profile was high even before the election. Clearly, it was a good decision for both Woodward and incumbent Kim Richter to abandon campaigns for mayor and seek council seats.

Richter finished third, with 10,007 votes.

The third change on council is the return of Steve Ferguson, who lost his seat in 2014 but has served on and off council since 1987. He too waged a vigorous campaign.

Voter turnout was up but, in percentage terms, is probably similar to 2014’s 30 per cent. About 2,400 more voters took part in the election, but the Township population has grown significantly in four years.

Township council will likely have some interesting debates in the new term, as Woodward has concerns about how development plans are treated by staff and council. Richter will also challenge conventional wisdom, and Petrina Arnason will not be afraid to speak up. Mayor Jack Froese, who was easily re-elected, will have to do a lot of moderating.

He and van den Broek will play key roles at the regional level – particularly at the Mayors’ Council, where the future of rapid transit in Surrey will be a hot topic. Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum wants a SkyTrain line down Fraser Highway to be the first priority south of the Fraser – something almost every Langley politician agrees with.

Froese will be one of the very few experienced mayors at the regional level. Of the 21 Metro Vancouver mayors, 16 are new. His experience in regional matters will be badly-needed.

Frank Bucholtz is a retired editor and blogger. His thoughts on matters related to the South Fraser region can be found on his Frankly Speaking blog at frankbucholtz.blogspot.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students at Brookswood Secondary participated in Student Vote 2020. (Katie Glover/Special to Langley Advance Times)
PHOTOS: Students cast a ballot for Langley candidates

Brookswood Secondary participated in Student Vote 2020

Voting locations in Langley for the 2020 BC provincial election. (Google)
MAP: Voting locations in Langley

Sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Aldergrove legion Branch 265 president Doug Hadley presents a poppy to Langley Township mayor Jack Froese. (Madeline Roach/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Poppy sales begin at Aldergrove legion branch #265

Branch president Doug Hadley shared the poem Who is a Veteran to begin the time of remembrance

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

Willowbrook Shopping Centre. (Langley Advance Times files)
Le Chateau will shutter stores in Willowbrook, across Canada

The Canadian fashion company says COVID-19 has made it impossible to continue operating

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Most Read