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Abbotsford's new mayor: ‘I can’t do this alone’

Abbotsford
Abbotsford's mayor elect Bruce Banman acknowledges applause from his supporters on Saturday night at city hall.
— image credit: John Morrow photo

Chiropractor-turned-politician Bruce Banman was elected mayor of Abbotsford on Saturday night, defeating incumbent George Peary.

While new to politics, Banman said he knows what direction he wants to take.

“What I will do ... is offer a more open and honest and transparent government.

“People are saying ‘Why was this done? Why was that done?’ They wanted answers and solutions and I plan on being able to give them that.”

The Stave Lake water project – a proposal to create a new water supply and treatment centre at a cost of $291 million as a public-private partnership (P3) – was the key election issue and Banman believes his stand against the project helped propel him to victory.

Voters soundly defeated the referendum.

Banman said his water concerns centred on a lack of information about the project, and the P3 format.

“They (the city) were saying, ‘Hey, trust us to do the right thing. Unfortunately, due to Plan A, due to the Heat contract, that trust was lost by the people of this city.

“We’ve got a lot of work to restore that trust, if we ever get it back.”

He said the way to do that is to learn from mistakes. Banman believes government can’t make decisions “for people.” Instead it has to do it “with people.”

He said he has a huge learning curve in front of him.

“I can’t run this city, I have to lead this city with a team. I can’t do this alone. I’m not capable of really running a city. I’m a chiropractor, what do I know about running a city? We have city managers for that. But I can lead a team,” said Banman, who will now work with Peary at city hall to create a smooth transition of power.

Last night (Monday) was the final council meeting for the previous mayor and council. The inaugural meeting for Banman and his team is set for Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.

The mayor-elect said he has his work cut out for him, trying to win over the rest of the community.

“I realize that a lot of times people don’t necessarily vote for you, they are voting against something else.

“I’ve got three years to prove to the citizens of this city that they did not make a mistake.”

It was a close race, but as poll results came in, Banman’s lead increased. In the end, he won by 1,143 votes, garnering 13,837 (43.2 per cent) to Peary’s 12,694 (39.6 per cent).

Peary told The News, “I’ve really enjoyed being mayor. I thank them (residents) for the confidence they’ve had in me, 18 years on council, three years as a school trustee and three years as mayor. So, I’ve had a great run.

“My head is bloodied but it’s unbowed. I leave with no regrets.”

Peary said the city has some challenges ahead, but he’s confident that Banman and the council will “meet them head on and keep things moving.”

 

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