Ridge economic development manager now on Abby council

Sandy Blue wins seat with slate Abbotsford First.

Strategic economic initiatives manager Sandy Blue was just elected councillor in Abbotsford in 2014 election.

Strategic economic initiatives manager Sandy Blue was just elected councillor in Abbotsford in 2014 election.

Just before the civic election campaigns began, Coun. Corisa Bell wondered about the manager of Maple Ridge’s economic development department, Sandy Blue, seeking a seat on Abbotsford council.

How could Blue have the time to sit on Abbotsford council while managing Maple Ridge’s economic development, Bell asked in September.

On Saturday, Blue was elected to Abbotsford council, winning as part of the Abbotsford First slate that took four seats during the Nov. 15 elections.

Bell said Maple Ridge’s new council should still discuss Blue’s election and will raise the issue with incoming mayor Nicole Read.

“The old mayor didn’t seem to have an issue with it whatsoever,” Bell said.

In September, outgoing mayor Ernie Daykin said people have right to a life outside their normal job, to represent their citizens.

Blue doesn’t plan on stepping down from her Maple Ridge position.

“I acknowledge the perception that raises, that there’s going to be conflict,” she said. “I’ve been here since 2008, giving my all in management. I don’t see that changing.”

Blue said her role as councillor is different from that of economic development manager.

“I personally don’t see any conflict and I wouldn’t put myself in a position of conflict if it came up.”

Company representatives or investors seeking to locate to Abbotsford would contact staff, not councillors, she said.

It’s conceivable that Abbotsford council could vote on, for example, tax exemptions for a company also seeking incentives in Maple Ridge. But if that situation came up, Blue would excuse herself from the council meeting and not vote.

“I’m not going to put myself in a position of conflict.”

Blue said she’s never seen a situation where the same company is eyeing locations in two cities at the same time, but acknowledges that could happen.

As Maple Ridge’s manager of strategic economic initiatives, Blue made $107,676 in 2013. As one of eight councillors in Abbotsford, she’ll make about $37,500 a year, $5,000 less than Maple Ridge councillors make.

Blue said Maple Ridge’s placing as the fifth-best city to invest in Canada, according to the Real Estate Investment Network, is drawing attention to this city.

“That’s something that’s an advantage, to Maple Ridge, to have that.”

Blue said it’s not a question whether she’ll have time to do both jobs. Schedules shouldn’t conflict. Maple Ridge’s Monday morning council workshops, during which she sometimes gives presentations, start at 9 a.m., while Abbotsford committee meetings begin at 3 p.m.

Blue doesn’t believe that doing one thing takes away from the other.

“I think it builds,” she said. “For me, it’s never about taking away. It’s about adding on. I have really high energy and give everything my all.”