If elected mayor, people will see a side of Coun. Henry Braun they haven’t seen before.
Braun, former co-owner, president and CEO of the Abbotsford-based Pacific Northern Rail Corp., said that while he has been an outspoken councillor, as mayor he would work towards consensus.
As a councillor, his job is to ask questions – which should have been asked years ago, he said. The mayor’s role is to interact with council and bring consensus, he said. As mayor, his questions would be to the city manager, before a proposal ever gets to city council, he said.
“I don’t want everybody to agree with me, I want to know why you disagree… Otherwise we are just rubber-stamping stuff.”
He said of the thousands of votes council has taken, he opposed less than five per cent and his opposition comes from trying to protect taxpayers’ dollars, such as on the YMCA project, where council had considered spending $17.5 million on a local facility.
Braun said that with only eight people at the council table due to the election of Simon Gibson to the legislature, there are many four-four votes at the council table.
“Many times the mayor actually casts the dissenting vote to make it a tie, which then defeats the issue.”
Braun said council needs talk about issues between meetings to understand where they stand on the issues, and that has not occurred in this term.
“We seem to want to tell the public what is good for you, not consult,” which is something he says he wants to change.
Braun, who cited the need for transparency in his 2011 campaign, said the city is still not where it should be. He said while some decisions must be made in-camera, the information and minutes should be released if at all possible, and “then communicate to the public why we made the decision we did.”
He said he wants to level the playing field for people and companies working with city hall, so they can’t use “ins” for special treatment.
“I want to give everybody special treatment. But not some to the exclusion of others,” he said. He said for economic prosperity to occur, barriers to working with the city such as inappropriate bylaws have to be removed.
He said that big developers are “gun-shy” to develop here, and other communities are receiving business instead of Abbotsford because it can be difficult to do business with the city.
He said he brings a different skill set than Banman, and his background in business has given him the experience to lead a large organization and to create a vision for it. He said he would empower employees to do what they are hired to do.
Braun said the mayor has a ceremonial and leadership role, and that while he may not be as publicly visible as the current mayor, he will use his deputy mayor and councillors differently for those roles.
In regard to homelessness, Braun said the issue should not have reached the present level. He said there are many empty buildings in Abbotsford and one could be rented for the winter to put a roof over people’s heads who could then be connected with services. Braun said if elected he would talk to the people on Gladys Avenue, because there has to be a better way to address the issue. The city shouldn’t spend money on legal fees for ongoing court cases involving the homeless and should instead help them, he said, adding that the court system doesn’t bring people together and “we need to bring our community together, at many levels.”