Some political memories from recent Langley history

Over 17 years, three Langley Township mayors were deposed by voters — and slates have been firmly rejected.

It’s strange feeling to head off to work each day, and realize there won’t be too many more such days.

My last day here at The Times is Tuesday, June 30. It will also mark the end of going to work on a regular basis after 44 years, with a few breaks for schooling and vacations.

I spent a total of six years in post-secondary education, at Douglas College, Simon Fraser University and the Langara journalism program. I also worked during much of that time. I began working in journalism in 1978 at the Agassiz Advance, and in January, 1979 began a 14-year stint at the Surrey Leader.

I have been contributing to The Times since shortly after my first “retirement” from a regular payroll in 1993, initially filling in for editor Lance Peverley and later doing relief work and filling in for virtually all the reporting staff. All but one of them have long since retired.

I came back to The Times in 1998 to fill a longer-term vacancy in the editor’s position. At first, Paul Bucci, former editor of the Chilliwack Progress, and I were sharing the job, as both of us had other work obligations as well.

In 1999, I was asked if I would take the position on a full-time basis. I knew and liked the staff, worked well with publisher Tanis Culley, and had a great appreciation for the people of Langley and their many and varied interests, and their strong connection to The Times.

I came aboard at a time of political turmoil. The Langley Leadership Team had won a majority on Township council and the school board in 1996, and proved controversial.

In talking recently with an up- close witness from that era, we concluded that the LLT had plenty of good ideas and initiated some long-overdue actions, but did so using a style which was as controversial as possible.

In 1999, many voters couldn’t wait to punish them at the polls. Turnout was an all-time recent high of almost 44 per cent, and two of the four LLT council members, including mayor John Scholtens, lost their seats.

The LLT school board had fallen apart during its term and none of them were voted back in.

In retrospect, the public may have been too harsh on the LLT — yet the public also made it loud and clear then and since that Langley voters don’t like slates of any kind.

In 2001, the same punishing mood took hold of provincial voters who threw out the governing NDP, who won just two seats. The BC Liberal era was ushered in, and Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman has played a major role from day one — and continues to.

Voters also threw out two more mayors since Scholtens’ defeat. Kurt Alberts lost his seat in 2008, and Rick Green lost in 2011. Both had never served on Township council, although both had extensive municipal experience.

One longtime political participant recently told me he appreciated that I “never had a dog in the fight” when it came to politics. I appreciate the observation, as I have tried to offer facts in news stories and opinions based on facts in columns and editorials. Voters make up their own minds.

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