Pitt Meadows gets second candidate for mayor

Michael Hayes joins John Becker in the race to lead the city of Pitt Meadows

Michael Hayes will be vying for the mayor's seat in Pitt Meadows. (Inset) Coun. David Murray and John Becker

Michael Hayes will be vying for the mayor's seat in Pitt Meadows. (Inset) Coun. David Murray and John Becker

Long-time community volunteer Michael Hayes wants to be Pitt Meadows’ next mayor.

The president of Pitt Meadows Community Foundation announced his intentions to run Monday, becoming the second candidate to vie for the seat. Current Mayor Deb Walters will not be seeking re-election.

Former city councillor John Becker will be on the ballot seeking the mayor’s spot for the second time, having lost to Walters in the last election.

“We have an excellent foundation to build on,” said Hayes, a software programming consultant who ran for a council seat in 2011, getting 942 votes.

“We are one of the fastest growing markets in the Lower Mainland. We need to continue to build our local economy, while balancing financial, environmental and social responsibilities,” Hayes added.

Although he grew up in Maple Ridge, Hayes has called Pitt Meadows home for 37 years. An active volunteer who lends his time to a long list of organizations, including the Pitt Meadows Day committee for the past 21 years – as well as Remembrance Day, Canada Day and the city’s centennial and annual Christmas celebrations – Hayes assures residents that he will dedicate himself to the position of mayor “full-time.”

“I am up to the challenge,” he said, promising to have an open-door policy.

“I believe in a democratic council, where the collective body represents the voices of all our citizens. As mayor, I will listen to those voices.”

It’s the people Hayes met while volunteering in the city who prompted him to run for seat on council.

“I genuinely feel that with my involvement in the community, it’s just a natural transition,” said Hayes.

He understands some voters may question why he did not pay his dues as a councillor before seeking the mayor’s chair, but believes his background as a programming analyst will help him navigate the new landscape.

“I’m not a stranger to jumping in the deep end, sometimes without a life jacket,” said Hayes, who has always watched city hall closely.

“I am quite familiar with a lot of the duties and policies that are in place.”

If elected, Hayes intends to focus on fair taxation, transportation and growth, as well to ensure Pitt Meadows maintains its quality of life.

He believes that increasing the city’s commercial and industrial tax base will ease the burden on residential taxpayers and help keep the local economy sustainable and strong for present and future generations.

“You have to scrutinize where the money is being spent; it’s public money,” said Hayes.

Since 2011, the city has received two petitions requesting council consider a “zero per cent” tax increase. The idea was also floated by Hayes’ opponent, Becker, in 2011.

“Can we achieve a zero tax increase? Maybe,” said Hayes. “But certainly not at this time. We have to look at our industry and tax bases and what we are bringing into the community to be able to do that.”

Hayes also intends to continue lobbying other levels of government for traffic improvements to the Lougheed corridor, especially an interchange at Harris Road and a rapid bus route to the Evergreen Line.

As a member of both the B.C. Liberal Party and federal Conservatives, he believes his connections with MLA Doug Bing and MP Randy Kamp will help the city achieve those goals.

“I look forward to working with both of them,” said Hayes.

He is just getting his campaign underway and say it is too early to point out the qualities that differentiate him from Becker.

He is currently building his campaign team and intends to make more announcements in the coming weeks.

Becker, meanwhile, received an endorsement this week from Coun. Dave Murray.

He also supported Becker for mayor in 2011, when Walters defeated him by 800 votes.

“I recognized then that John has tremendous leadership skills and he is a great facilitator,” said Murray, who is serving his first term on council.

Murray, a CUPE-backed candidate, got Becker an endorsement from the public sector union in 2011.

Murray reflected on the past three years  and observed: “I have been part of a divided council and that just doesn’t work.

“I believe that John truly understands that councillors and citizens have voices that deserve to be heard.”

Besides Murray, Couns. Bruce Bell, Janis Elkerton and Gwen O’Connell will be seeking re-election. Andrew Thompson is the only new candidate to officially declare his intention to run, so far.

The civic election takes place on Nov. 15.

 

Workshop

Thinking of running for Pitt Meadows council? Attend an orientation workshop on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. inside the council chambers at Pitt Meadows city hall. Info: Kelly Kenney at 604-465-2433 or email kkenney@pittmeadows.bc.ca.