They ate cookies and sipped tea and coffee and exchanged hugs at a meet-and-greet for Ernie Daykin, who on Wednesday launched his bid to win a third straight term as Maple Ridge mayor.
“About 30 days to go,” Daykin said later. “We had a good turnout for a Wednesday evening.”
Seniors were there, as were realtors and business people, and about 10 council candidates at what used to be a store next to the old Mussallem Motors dealership.
“It was all good. Everybody does what they think they need to do,” Daykin said.
“I was pleased.”
Daykin doesn’t read anything into council candidates who stopped by.
Among them: Gordy Robson, now seeking a council seat; former councillor Craig Speirs and present councillor Al Hogarth, both seeking re-election; and candidates Kirsten Duncan, Alex Pope and Ken Holland.
“I have no illusions that anyone of them supports me,” Daykin said. “I think there’s lots of common ground there, for sure.”
Daykin said he’s running again because he loves Maple Ridge – he was born and raised here, ran a business here for 24 years, and raised his family here.
“I really do love the community and I think I have some experience,” Daykin said.
“We’ll continue to move the community forward.”
Daykin admits much needs to be done to improve Maple Ridge, but “we’re moving along.
“As much as others may challenge me, I think we’re making progress.”
Downtown is improving, there are two new parks in Silver Valley and the Hammond area plan is underway.
Maple Ridge has a way to go, counters mayoral candidate and current councillor Mike Morden.
“The first step is excellence at city hall,” he said.
“We need to be the best city hall in the region – not the worst.
“I want excellence in staff, excellence in service and excellence in delivery. That opens us for business. That gets the jobs moving.”
Council will evaluate how to improve city hall, Morden said.
He also noted that times for delivery of building permits are published in other cities.
To improve service, staff has to tell council it will cost to improve time on issuing a building permit, for example.
Morden said he was glad council gave third reading to the employment land investment incentive program Tuesday. The program gives similar discounts and tax exemptions to businesses as those received by builders in downtown Maple Ridge.
“It was my idea – 100 per cent. Ask Ernie,” Morden said.
“No one gives me credit for it, but I own it. It’s mine. I came up with the whole idea. I’ve been driving it for three years.”
He also he drove the idea of getting department heads and RCMP now report to council in committee when presenting their budget.
“That was my idea as well,” to get the RCMP to talk to council. “We were the first municipality in B.C. to do that.”
Another mayoral candidate, Graham Mowatt, said it must be nice to have lots of money to run a campaign.
“I just don’t have that money.”
Daykin estimates he’ll spend between $15,000 and $20,000 on his campaign.
Mowatt will spend about $3,000.
Mowatt issued a release earlier this week calling for a zero-per-cent tax increase next year, with reductions over the next four years to decrease what the average homeowner is currently paying in property taxes.
He’ll also ask staff to prepare a zero-based budget next year, as the City of Pitt Meadows has done.
He also wants it easier for the public to ask questions from department heads during the two-day budgeting exercise held each year instead of waiting for the end of the two-day presentation.
“I’m looking at cutting the size of city hall and increasing the efficiencies.”
He says he won’t support higher TransLink taxes unless better service comes to Maple Ridge.
Mowatt wants the public involvement for the entire four years, “to have much greater transparency and accountability, and to give citizens as many opportunities as possible to aid council … to make Maple Ridge a city where we can all be proud to live.”
Gary Cleave and Nicole Read are also running for mayor.