AbbotsfordFirst to consider make-up of 2018 slate

AbbotsfordFirst to consider make-up of 2018 slate

Party’s new presidents says still not known how many candidates slate will field

The new president of the AbbotsfordFirst Electors Society says it hasn’t yet been decided how many candidates the group will support in next year’s municipal election, and that there are no plans to throw the slate’s weight behind a bid for the mayor’s seat.

Markus Delves, an accountant at Quantum Properties, was named the slate’s president last week, replacing outgoing president Marty Snider.

In a city where slates have been a rarity, AbbotsfordFirst took 2014’s municipal election by storm, fielding five candidates for council. Four were elected – Couns. Sandy Blue, Ross Siemens, Kelly Chahal and Brenda Falk – with only Vince Dimanno failing to win a seat.

Since their election, Blue, Siemens, Chahal and Falk have largely voted in agreement with non-aligned members, with the vast majority of council votes having been unanimous. But the foursome have been the least likely to voice disagreement and opposition with motions put to a vote.

When such disagreement does arrive, it usually comes from one or two of council’s veteran voices – Couns. Les Barkman, Moe Gill, Patricia Ross and Dave Loewen.

There have been no major splits between AbbotsfordFirst and non-aligned councillors.

Indeed, when council turned down a proposed banquet hall in 2015 – perhaps the only significant 5-4 split since the election – two AbbotsfordFirst councillors voted in favour of the project and two vote against.

Delves stressed that AbbotsfordFirst is “not in opposition to the other candidates” and that it aims to nominate individuals “who believe in a core set of principals.”

“A lot of it comes down to a focus on good governance and accountability and transparency,” he said.

Delves said the society is also proud of the Official Community Plan adopted by the city last year and “very impressed” with current Mayor Henry Braun. He said there are no ties, though, between Braun and AbbotsfordFirst.

Delves said the group won’t decide until the spring how many candidates it might field next year, and said that conversations with current councillors about their plans will also be held in the new year. He did say, though, that the four current councillors are “all very happy with their roles.”

He continued: “I could certainly foresee them continuing, but none of them have made the commitment to run again.”

The slate’s name might also be up for discussion. The AbbotsfordFirst moniker is similar to names of political organizations in many other communities – notably Surrey First.

When the organization was launched, Delves said no one could have predicted that Donald Trump would run for election and win, frequently using the slogan America First. During that campaign, it was frequently noted that America First had been the name of an isolationist political organization born in 1940 known for use of anti-semitic slogans.

“It’s a tough one,” Delves said. “It’s something that will be discussed.”

Delves is not only involved in municipal politics; he is also the financial agent for Mike de Jong’s BC Liberal leadership campaign – the same role he played in de Jong’s campaign this spring. Outgoing president Marty Snider managed that campaign for de Jong.

But beyond his own activities, Delves said there are no direct ties between AbbotsfordFirst and the provincial Liberals.