Langford municipal election shaping up to be a battle for council seats

Langford municipal election shaping up to be a battle for council seats

The municipal election race in Langford is shaping up to be different from previous years, where the outcome was so certain some candidates didn’t do any campaigning.

In the 2018 election, Langford Mayor Stew Young filed with Elections BC that he had done zero campaign activity on his disclosure statement.

This means that he attested that he did not receive any deposits or income, had no expenses including reusing signs from previous campaigns, did not have a campaign account, did not change financial agents and did not receive free election advertising.

And yet, despite that, he won 82 per cent of the vote against the other candidate for mayor, Robert Fraser.

This time around, the Langford race is a different story.

Travelling through Langford shows Young has many signs posted around the municipality, and that he is running as part of a slate, Community First Langford.

Another change is that incumbent councillor Denise Blackwell is also not running aligned with Young, for the first time in 30 years.

“I do think we need change this time to shake things up a bit,” Blackwell told CHEK News. “This is my last kick at the can, so I would like to be there to be a mentor to some of those younger people.”

Young has been the mayor since the city was incorporated in 1992, and this year there are more names on the ballot. Langford Now is a group running together calling for more transparency and slowing development.

“We are pushing for change,” Harder said. “We’re developing so quickly, a lot of residents are wondering if there is a need for greater transparency.”

The slate’s platform says it wants to balance densification and affordable housing while ensuring new development doesn’t outpace infrastructure and services.

At the same time, Langford Now candidates say they hope to increase the amount of purpose-built affordable rental housing.

WATCH: New political group running candidates to challenge existing Langford council

Young argues that the Langford Now group wants to stop the progress the city is making.

“They want to stop development in Langford. Well, we’re building housing in Langford for everybody. We’re building jobs for the people of Langford,” he said.

Development transformed the community of 10,000 into one of the fastest-growing cities in the province. The 2021 Statistics Canada Census shows there is now a population of 46,584 in Langford.

Outside of the two slates, there are three independents, including Blackwell, running in Langford.

David Black, associate professor of communications and history at Royal Roads University, said more choices are positive for residents.

“That’s good for local democracy,” Black said. “You want the citizens of Langford, especially 30 years into the Stewart Young sort of era, to have some choices in front of them.”

In 2018, Langford had one of the lowest voter turnouts in B.C., with just 18.5 per cent of eligible voters cating a ballot.

The previous election saw all of the incumbents who were seeking election. According to Civic Info, the average for incumbents being re-elected across the province was 80.6 per cent.

All the current Langford councillors are seeking re-election this year.

“Incumbency in municipal elections is always a remarkable force far more than that the provincial and federal level,” Black said. “Incumbency adds about 30 percentage points to the likelihood of you winning as a councillor or as a mayor.”

Langford voters have two more chances to cast a ballot in the election. At advance voting on Oct. 12, and general election day on Oct. 15.

-With files from CHEK’s Mary Griffin

READ MORE: Langford councillors to see more competition in upcoming election

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