Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker announced on Wednesday he will be seeking re-election.
The announcement was made at a gathering of supporters at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery – a facility created during this term of council.
“I believe that a community has to be led with a shared vision of the future, not pushed by made-up problems and negativity,” said Becker, paraphrasing Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Becker said he will campaign based on a “T3” platform of taxes, transportation and transparency in government operations.
He said the city still enjoys some of the lowest property taxes in the region having increased approximately two per cent each year on average during the term, including a zero tax first year. Headway is being made on transportation issues, and the council is diligent about engaging the community in conversations, he said.
“From all accounts, we’ve worked harder than any other council of experience or record,” said Becker.
He identified a number of council achievements over the past four years, including the Pitt Meadows Fire Department being rated in the top three in Canada for a community of that size.
He agreed fire protection could be a wedge issue between he and Coun. Bill Dingwall, who also announced he will run for mayor. Dingwall said the city should have more full-time firefighters, to attend more medical emergencies, as they do in neighbouring cities.
Becker contended that firefighters are there to fight fires, and if the city needs better emergency medical services it must be provided by paramedics. He said local ambulance service has been “significantly ramped up.”
“It’s ludicrous to suggest we should take property taxes to pay for medical services being provided by the province,” said Becker.
Other accomplishments he listed included:
• The creation of “made in Pitt Meadows” Parks and Recreation department, after a divorce from Maple Ridge in sharing delivery of those services.
• The embedded community commitment to arts, culture and heritage, including the art gallery and greater support for the museum and heritage functions.
• A best practices civic engagement policy led by Becker after training in Civic Engagement at SFU. He said civic engagement has been a hallmark of the last four years, including the Becker’s Chat with the Mayor series at local coffee shops, the library and senior’s centre.
• Sharing direct control of the Pitt Meadows airport board of directors with Maple Ridge, a new strategic vision and new airport manager.
• “A new relationship of respect, collaboration and reconciliation with Katzie First Nation.”
• Pitt Meadows being a safe and secure community with a relatively low crime rate and little if any of the societal fractures experienced in other communities.
Becker finished by saying that he believed that Pitt Meadows residents want a respectful debate over the issues and qualifications of the candidates, and not personal attacks.
He will offer further details about his platform as the campaign continues.
Becker, who has a law practice, was first elected to Pitt Meadows council in 2002. He ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2011 and was off council, but won the mayoralty in 2014.