Don’t expect Pitt Meadows’ mayor-elect to step away from the volunteer work she has done for years.
Deb Walters will still be organizing food vendors at the city’s annual Pitt Meadows Day celebration, she’ll be rolling up her sleeves, making sure everything runs smoothly.
She’s also squeeze in volunteering for School District 42’s education foundation, Pitt Meadows Community Foundation, Toastmasters and the garden club.
“I’m not going to stop any of that,” says Walters, who was elected as the city’s next mayor on Saturday with 2,025 votes.
Winner of the 2005 Pitt Meadows Citizen of the Year Award, Walters recognizes the spirit of volunteerism is a huge part of this community.
By working closely with people, fund-raising and organizing community events, Walters has learned that one thing is key: communication.
“I tend to get buy-in from people just because I am willing to listen,” says Walters, who calls her style of leadership “collaborative.”
Walters won’t be moving into the mayor’s office at city hall until she is officially sworn in on Dec. 6.
Although people are already jockeying to book appointments to meet her, Walters is holding off on slotting them in until next week.
“Mayor MacLean is still the mayor,” said Walters, acknowledging the man who had been at the helm of the city for 12 years.
Walters credits a team of 100 volunteers for helping her win the election and a door-knocking campaign that targeted almost every street in the city, but six.
While on the campaign trail, Walters carried a pie-chart that broke down where money is spent and pulled it out when residents complained about their every increasing property tax bills.
“Then people understood where the dollars went to,” said Walters.
That listening ear is what’s going to set apart Walter’s from other mayors.
She’s already talked to city CAO Jake Rudolph about organizing town hall meetings or focus groups a couple of times a year.
The meetings would be a venue for people to bring forward concerns, vent and maybe even commend the city.
“We will get people who aren’t happy,” said Walters.
“We are not always going to be able to resolve everybody’s problems and sometimes there are those people who just like to complain, and you know what, that’s their right too.”
Instead of just appointing councillors to various committees, Walters has decided to let council chose their appointments according to their interests and expertise.
“To me, I rather utilize people’s expertise and interests, I think the community benefits from that,” she said.
As for increasing the city’s business tax intake, Walters reminds everyone not to rush.
The North Lougheed Commercial Study is currently awaiting comment from the provincial Agricultural Land Commission and no developments have been pitched for the Cardiff Farm land at the south end of Harris Road.
“We are not in a hurry,” said Walters.
“People are happy. They are satisfied citizens overall. When you ask someone where would you live? They don’t want to live anywhere else.”