Local residents decide Saturday who they want to see leading the district for the next three years, and four men are vying for your votes.
Incumbent James Atebe is facing three challengers: Ted Adlem, Mike Gildersleeve and Dan Williamson. Each candidate was asked what were the top two election issues in 2011. Below are their responses.
A local business owner, Adlem says taxes are his biggest concern.
“In 2008, the economy was good and it was the best year for many of us,” he said. “Now, people are not spending money because they just don’t have any.”
For Adlem, and the Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government, given most people’s income hasn’t grown in step with the increasing budget, current leadership just “don’t understand what’s happening in the real world.”
Adlem is also incensed that he paid 12 per cent more in taxes this year than last after being told the increase would be three per cent.
Secondly, Adlem put his name forward after seeing how the Public Safety Inspection Team (PSIT) carried out its duties.
Adlem says the PSIT team, which would carry out inspections of homes based on high energy consumption and levy fees of up to $5,200, shows the “moral compass is on the wrong path.”
Atebe said one of his key desires is that economic development continues and this brings an expansion to the commercial and industrial tax base.
“This will buffer homeowners from suffering through high taxes,” he said. “In turn, this brings jobs, and keeps money here. Economic development also includes educational opportunities.”
Converting hundreds of acres around Stave Lake into an interpretive forest, which would bring tourist and recreational dollars, is one example he provided, along with continuing to fill the Silvercreek industrial park.
Atebe also wants to “continue the relationship between Mission, Fraser Valley hospital district and the Fraser Health Authority to ensure healthcare services are protected and enhanced.”
Seeing the state-of-the-art Campus of Care and Community Health Centre completed near Mission Memorial Hospital would attract more health professionals.
“That’s the heart of the community.”
Finances topped Gildersleeve’s list as his biggest focus.
The escalation of property taxes and assessments is causing too much hardship for Mission residents, he said.
“I’m seeing it like the record’s stuck. I’m trying to see if I can work with the community for a freeze on property taxes,” he continued.
Gildersleeve believes excess waste is leading to a worsening of the district’s financial position, citing the Leisure Centre and Gaudin Creek budget overruns, and the high wages at municipal hall as examples.
The environment was Gildersleeve’s number two concern.
“The natural environment is our most precious asset,” he said.
While not against development as a whole, the mayoral hopeful said it’s more a question of how we’re developing areas.
“We’re seeing our own council … putting pressure to fast forward developments. We have to find a better balance so that we can maintain a livable community. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘We can’t develop there.'”
A former alderman in Langley, the P3 water issue has Williamson most concerned.
“Having a private, for-profit corporation getting a monopoly on a public resource is ridiculous,” he said.
Mission isn’t in dire need of water yet, however it’s a long-term process to build a new water system and the work on that should begin now. Just not with a P3 model.
Secondly, the PSIT situation “just drove me wild,” he said.
Williamson is upset with how the team operated and found it hard to believe he was still in Canada, with people entering private homes and levying fines.
The marijuana grow operation problem needs a fresh look, he said.
“Sixty per cent of Canadians think the way we deal with pot is wrong.”