The mayoral race in Pitt Meadows is ramping up, with one candidate flaunting his federal and provincial political connections in a bid to win the seat.
In a press release issued Wednesday by a marketing firm hired for John Becker’s campaign, B.C. Liberal regional director Marion Keys heaps praise on the current city councillor for recently winning the May Brown Award, which recognizes a member of the B.C. Liberal Party “who has performed tirelessly as a community and civic leader.”
“We need more politicians in this world like this,” said Keys. “John doesn’t bend with the wind; he has a strong moral compass. He would be a great mayor for Pitt Meadows.”
Showing off one’s political leanings is unusual for Pitt Meadows politicians, who’ve largely stayed away from slates and overt political alliances.
But with three people vying for a seat that’s been held by retiring Mayor Don MacLean for the past 12 years, Becker believes it was time to highlight what he sees as strengths.
It doesn’t hurt to have friendships with B.C. Liberal bigwigs, including Premier Christy Clark, he noted.
“It gives you an ear,” said Becker, who door-knocked for Clark during her campaign to become MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey.
“She knows who I am. I’ve built some credibility and it’s not just politically, it’s because I work hard. Therefore, when I say that Pitt Meadows needs something, these people know that I am serious about it.”
Despite his political leanings, Becker stresses he can work with the NDP, should that party form government, but reckons the B.C. Liberals will be in power at least until the spring of 2013 – or a good majority of the next three-year municipal term.
“If Adrian Dix wants to come to golf in beautiful Pitt Meadows, I’d be happy to sling him a beer and feed him a hot dog or two,” Becker joked.
The press release also noted that Becker has recently limited his “other civic interests” to actively pursue the mayor’s position.
He resigned as president of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows B.C. Liberal riding association last week and also stepped down as chair of the Meadowridge School board or directors.
He’s also launched a campaign website that displays catchy slogans, such as “Becker Is Better,” and endorsements, including one from Conservative MP Mark Strahl.
Furthermore, Becker has also activated a “Talk to John” phone line to hear the “interests, concerns and questions” from residents.
“People call through, they don’t have to go through the front desk … through a legal assistant, it comes to my phone and my phone alone,” said Becker. “That’s what it’s for, so I can listen to people.”
The premier and other politicians won’t be joining Becker on the campaign trail.
“That would be over top,” he said.
Coun. Deb Walters, who is also seeking the mayor’s seat, isn’t “panicked” by Becker’s endorsements and political connections.
City council was informed this past week that Walters will be presented with a Local Government Leadership Academy certificate at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference next week.
“The writ doesn’t get dropped till Oct. 4,” Walters said, indicating that she too will be launching a website soon that will include endorsements from “upstanding citizens from Pitt Meadows, not outside.”
“The people of Pitt Meadows like to be spoken to and they like to know that they’ve been heard and I think that’s something that I do. I am pleased with the support”
Gary Paller, a Pitt Meadows resident who has co-ordinated special effects in the film and television industry since the early 1980s, is the third declared candidate for the mayor’s position.
Nominations close on Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. The election will be held on Nov. 19.
• To listen to the voice mail message from the “Talk to John” phone line, click here.
• The press release from announcing the May Brown award: