Three new people were elected to Abbotsford council on Saturday, while one incumbent was voted out.
Patricia Driessen, Mark Warkentin and Simon Gibson join incumbents Dave Sidhu, Patricia Ross, Les Barkman, Kelly Chahal and Dave Loewen to form the next council.
Incumbent Sandy Blue landed in the ninth spot, just 70 votes behind Gibson.
Two spots had been vacated prior to the election, with Ross Siemens announcing that he was running for mayor and Brenda Falk not seeking re-election.
Gibson is no stranger to council, having previously served more than 30 years before stepping into provincial politics as an MLA from 2013 to 2020.
Gibson told The News on Saturday night that he is looking forward to getting back into civic politics.
“Local government is really the closest government to the people and the services that people most appreciate,” he said. “Having served two terms as an MLA and really learning from that experience, I think I can be a real asset to council over the next four years.”
He said his priorities will continue to be social issues such as homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness, but he is also concerned about development on the “remaining hills” on the east side of Abbotsford.
“I want to ensure they are developed with integrity and with respect to the environment, and also with the kind of planning that people will be proud of in the coming years,” Gibson said.
He said watching the vote tallies come in was stressful, with him and Blue being so close together.
“I wish Sandy well. She was a very important member of the council, and I know she’ll be missed by many of our citizens.”
Warkentin said he is looking forward to his first term on council. He said he decided to run because he has been active in the community, including as a former president of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Abbotsford Police Board.
“So this was the next step for me, and I just want to make sure that city council has some good governance and mature thinking,” he said.
Warkentin said some of his priorities as a councillor will be on community safety and how to properly manage population growth and ensure the city is economically prosperous.
Driessen, who watched the results come in Saturday night at home with close family and friends, said she feels “so honoured” to have been elected.
“With it being my first time running, my campaign looked different from others and I knew early on that I was going to be relying heavily on the relationships I’ve built in our community and the work I’ve put in. I was thrilled to see the results,” she said.
Driessen, who runs an events management company, said she wants to be a voice on council for tourism, agriculture and small business.
She said she will focus on what can be done to support those industries and highlight them to surrounding communities “so Abbotsford is known as a vibrant city to work, live, learn and play in.”