Election 2014: New candidate seeks mayor’s seat

District of Hope: Four people have now declared their intention to run in November

A former Hope mayor is planning to run again this November for the community’s top job.

Wilfried Vicktor declared his candidacy this week and will be vying for the mayor’s seat this fall against current Coun. Peter Robb, Fraser Valley Regional District area director Lloyd Forman, and local resident Cindy Young.

“I think there’s a need for some changes. It’s something I feel I can contribute to and I think my experience will come in handy,” said Vicktor, who currently works for Hope Towing. “I think the public trust of town mayor and council is at a low point and this is an issue that needs to be addressed. The public should feel like mayor and council are champions for their best interests, and I don’t believe that’s the case right now.”

Between 1993 and 2008, Vicktor served as councillor, two-time mayor and two-time school trustee. Looking at the current state of the community, he sees a number of things that need to be addressed. In particular, Vicktor feels mayor and council should have more control over district expenditures and spending priorities, as well as greater transparency and better communication with the public.

“When taxes go up, I feel the pain. The tax increases over the last five years have been extraordinary and people are very concerned,” he added. “I would suggest that council sets clearer direction and staff follows it, not the other way around. Staff sometimes seems to be leading council.”

Vicktor is also concerned about the business climate in town and points out that many businesses are dissatisfied with the tax rates. He believes there’s a lot of expertise in the existing business community that can be used to help identify what is not working so that Hope can move forward.

“The biggest job of mayor or a council member is to listen to the public, he said. “I kind of see Hope as a big family. We have our family dynamics that are working well, we have some dynamics that need some improvement and we also have a family that has to run its budget very carefully so everyone is taken care of.”

The municipal election is set for Nov. 15 and there will also be a referendum on the ballot regarding council size. Voters will be asked whether they are in favour of reducing the number of councillors from six to four.

Vicktor said he’s not in favour of reducing the number of councillors as it would be “very dysfunctional if there’s a clique on council.”

“In an ideal world, council members would vote independently, regardless of who they’re friends with and regardless of personal or business contacts. But in the real world, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.”