British Columbia·Metro Matters

Peter Fassbender entry to Langley's mayor race leaves rivals in need of new message

CBC Vancouver is exploring the mayoral campaigns in each of Metro Vancouver's 21 municipalities leading up to the civic elections on Oct. 20.

The former mayor and minister has a long political record — but his competition doesn't want to discuss it

Current Langley councillors Val van den Broek and Paul Albrecht announced months ago they would run for mayor to replace the retiring Ted Schaffer. (City of Langley )

Some people can say they're running for mayor with barely anyone noticing. 

Not Peter Fassbender. 

The former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister and three-term mayor of the City of Langley declared Monday he would try and get his old job back.

"I've seen a lot of changes that are going to happen throughout Metro with the changes of mayors, and I feel my experience, both in the city and provincially, have given me the tools that I'll be able to give a significant contribution," he said, in an announcement covered by several large media outlets. 

His entry shakes up what had been a low-key race between two councillors, Val van den Broek and Paul Albrecht, who had declared months earlier they would try and replace retiring Mayor Ted Schaffer.

But it also forces both of them to answer a key question — why should City of Langley voters, who gave Fassbender over 65 per cent of the vote in 2008 and 2011, pick them instead? 

Peter Fassbender won elections for mayor of Langley in 2005, 2008 and 2011 before entering provincial politics. (CBC)

'I'm at a crossroads right now'

The two of them haven't quite honed that pitch yet.

"Peter's record stands on its own. If we're talking levels of experience, I'm not in his classification at all. I don't measure up in a lot of the political areas," said Albrecht, a civil engineer and labour leader elected to council for the first time in 2014. 

"I don't want to disappoint voters, but I'll be brutally honest. I'm at a crossroads right now. I have a number of things … that are making me waver a bit," he said, acknowledging that Fassbender's decision to enter the race was one of them. 

"He's a significant presence, especially in our community, and I still have things to learn."

Van den Broek, also a first-term councillor and former community police office co-ordinator, was less deferential towards Fassbender, but didn't want to draw a direct contrast with him.

"I understand his style, and understand what the previous councils did, and they did do great work, and I think we can build on that," she said, highlighting work done to expand and rebuild the city's parks and trail system. 

"Look at what we've done in council the last four years ... more so than probably the last 20 years."

LRT to Langley? 

Both van den Broek and Albrecht stressed many of the same points in their interview — continuing the progress made by the current council, supporting a new vision strategy that charts a 25-year plan for the city and pushing for TransLink to consider a SkyTrain link to Langley instead of the currently proposed LRT. 

"Setting up an appropriate spine that works quickly and efficiently should be SkyTrain, but there are other political agendas that are driving the LRT," said Albrecht, who said senior levels of government had failed the city in support of affordable housing and care for seniors and veterans. 

"With election time, there will be new people coming on. I think we might see some things steering in a different direction," said van den Broek.

But with no serious differences in policy between the candidates — and no desire to go negative — the former mayor looks to have a decent chance of doing that steering. 

CBC Vancouver is exploring the mayoral campaigns in each of Metro Vancouver's 21 municipalities leading up to civic elections on Oct. 20.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin McElroy

@j_mcelroy

Justin is the Municipal Affairs Reporter for CBC Vancouver, covering local political stories throughout British Columbia.

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