Mayor Henry Braun says the suggestion by Coun. Moe Gill his friends have uniquely benefited from his time in office is an “absolute fabrication.”
In a press release sent to The News last week announcing his run for mayor, Coun. Moe Gill was quoted as saying that integrity has been lacking in the mayor’s office, that the current “vision” for the city “is closed and opaque to all but those that are the most connected with the insiders,” and that if he were to win in October, “Community groups and developers will have a stronger voice (outside of the mayor’s personal group of companies and close personal friends).”
The allegations remain unsubstantiated; Gill has not responded to multiple requests for an interview since his financial agent sent the release to The News last Wednesday. The release was not published on Gill’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Reached for comment Friday, Braun said he was shocked by the allegations.
“When I read it, my first reaction was ‘I can’t believe this,’” he said. “That is an absolute fabrication, period, end of story.”
Braun said Gill – who sits next to him at council meetings – has never previously raised concerns.
“He has certainly never spoken to me about any of this, ever, in six and a half years.”
No other councillors have come forward to verify Gill’s claims.
Coun. Dave Loewen, who has served four terms on council alongside Gill and two with Braun. In an email to The News, Loewen called the allegations “poppycock,” and said Braun “acted with a very high level of integrity.”
“On what does he base these allegations?” Loewen wrote. “He must have something specific to support it. If not, I would suggest it’s a strategy his team has decided to employ.”
Coun. Patricia Ross concurred.
“I do not share the negative sentiments expressed in the press release,” she wrote to The News. “I respect both these men for their service and it is a sad reality of politics in our time if campaigns are reduced to this level of personal attacks.”
And Markus Delves, the president of the AbbotsfordFirst party that counts Couns. Brenda Falk, Ross Siemens, Kelly Chahal and Sandy Blue as members, wrote that the organization has “no knowledge of the allegations contained within this press release.” The group has previously commended Braun for his term as mayor, but Braun is not a member.
Braun said he has appropriately recused himself from voting on matters involving family members or business partners while serving as mayor and on council. He said he has also deliberately not pursued business opportunities in Abbotsford since being elected.
And he adamantly denied participating in discussions about city issues with friends and family.
“I just don’t, and, when someone raises something, I say ‘Guys, I’m not talking about it.’”
He said he will meet with anyone who asks to do so at city hall, and that a city employee is always present for such meetings.
“I don’t even know if Coun. Gill understands libel laws,” said Braun, but added that he wouldn’t pursue the matter in the courts.
Gill announced his campaign Wednesday, saying the city could grow faster than it has been. Disagreements between Gill and Braun have rarely surfaced during public council meetings, and the two have rarely been on different sides of major issues that have come to a vote.
Council isn’t scheduled to reconvene until Aug. 27. Voters will head to the polls on Oct. 20
Braun maintained Friday that he will run a positive re-election.
“I have said I’m going to take a high road on the campaign,” he said. “I know negative attack stuff works – any political party will tell you that – but I’m not going there, no matter what they say.”