A new organization will run a group of candidates in the upcoming municipal election.
Fred Thiessen, president of the AbbotsfordFirst Electoral Society, announced four candidates for the Nov. 15 election: Ross Siemens, Kelly Chahal, Vince Dimanno and Brenda Falk.
Siemens is the owner of Hub Motor Service in downtown Abbotsford and a founding member of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association and has sat on the Abbotsford Community Services board. He served on the District of Abbotsford council from 1986 to 1990.
Chahal works for the Ministry of Justice and has been a community activist for the past 20 years. She continues to volunteer with Canuck Place, the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association and more.
Dimanno became involved in local politics by starting the “Stop Plan A” campaign. In 2008, he co-founded the Today Media Group and launched abbotsfordtoday.ca as a community news, information and entertainment service.
Falk is a farmer, entrepreneur and business woman. She is the owner of Tanglebank Garden since 1996 and Brambles Bistro since 2012. She has sat on numerous city committees and is a co-creator of the regional Circle Farm Tour.
Thiessen said he is serving as president because he is passionate about the issues facing Abbotsford, but a main reason for not being a candidate himself is that he often travels outside of the city. He said although the group currently has no candidate for mayor, the idea has not been ruled out.
Though part of a unified group, Thiessen said it is “non-partisan” and added that if the candidates are elected, the members would be able to vote individually on council issues.
Thiessen said their society believes Abbotsford deserves better.
“In 2006, our city was debt-free and had a projected $4 million surplus. Today our debt is more than $100 million, the financial outlook isn’t favourable and there are no plans in place to get us back on track,” he said.
He said the city is a large organization with a $250 million annual budget and “the current council has been around for so long and we feel that we need better councillors, a better skill set, a better competency. We need people who can think critically about issues.”
He said the society’s primary goal is to have four to six new councillors elected Nov. 15. The society also plans to have an advisory committee of residents who can advise them on various issues.
In addition to Thiessen, the board includes , Jack Robertson (vice-president), June Ross (secretary), Eric Nyvall (financial agent) and Marty Snider (membership chair). The society has issued a call for additional candidates, and interested people are invited to complete the candidate profile available on the website abbosfordfirst.com