“Gerda, would you tell me who I should vote for.”  That’s a question I get asked fairly often  as do all other candidates for public office.

Well obviously, it would be very nice if you thought I deserved your vote,  but beyond that who do I think is worthy of a seat at the council table?

Maybe politics in Abbotsford has always been cut-throat and I wasn’t so aware of it before I used the Internet.  Because absolutely no one else wanted the job, I took on the presidency of our rock and gem club, for a year.  That forced me to wade into social media, in order to handle the club correspondence. So for the first time I’m a candidate engaging with people at a much different level of awareness.

Based on this greater ease of communication, I think I’ll try to answer the ‘who to vote for’ question, to the best of my own understanding.

To begin: The entrance of ‘Slate’ politics into the race for control of our city is, in my view, the most nefarious aspect of the 2014 local election. Certainly some of the slate of five were decent people, to the best of my knowledge, but this past month has revealed a sinister backdrop, so awful that I believe none of the slate members can be trusted to put ‘AbbotsfordFirst’.

Instead of the focus being on every candidate, every individual person and their unique qualities, distinct attributes that qualify the council hopeful to make decisions for the good of all people in Abbotsford,…….this Slate has a body of 23 advisors. Then it has Marty Snider, a man who answers all questions directed to their website. He advises the five candidates who to answer and what to say…….the gatekeeper. The slate members say they are not a party,…..their website repeatedly calls them a party. The members try to convince us that they are really fit to be leaders, their own posts tell us up front that the five will vote as a unified body. They will be controlled by Groupthink, by the unelected ‘advisors’.

There are serious questions swirling around their prime candidate, Vince Dimanno, but none of the five has attempted to answer what began in October as simple questions about the central claim of this man to being President of the ‘Abbotsford Ratepayers Association’. The response to those questions has been out of all proportion to the simple remedy of producing, what ought to be, readily available documentation — if the boasted position and organization exist. But instead what followed was a month of dark threats of legal action, a flurry of ARA web alterations, and an orchestrated spin that is almost beyond belief.

So for me, all credibility for all five Slate candidates is shattered. The circle-our-wagons mentality on display already bodes ill if any of these people should ever gain control of a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayers’ money, and all the vital, complex decisions council makes. A slate of five on a council of nine is an automatic control of city hall. The present behaviour of ‘AbbotsfordFirst’ slate candidates is eerily reminiscent of George Orwell’s book ‘1984’. Already, even before the election, these five are controlled by Groupthink.

We do not need a group who puts the interests and problems of ‘one of their own’ above the good of almost 140,000 people. This slate is the worst danger facing Abbotsford on November 15. I consider it of greater importance even, than who the new mayor will be.

Beyond the Slate candidates, none of whom should get your vote, there are  some noteworthy people running. It is an awesome task to offer advice to anyone, as to who they should trust with their precious vote, kind of on the level of telling people who they ought to marry. The decision has enormous consequences and a wrong, “I do” can wreak havoc in your life.

Being mindful that all candidates for public office are mere mortals, and therefore far from perfect, I would nonetheless cast my own vote for Tina Stewart, Lyle Caldwell, Dan Bue, and Raji Buttar. Given the danger of slate dominance I’m leaning towards suggesting some continuity with the old council, because even if you think they did a bad job consigning Abbotsford to some outrageous contracts, nonetheless we could go from a frying pan into a very bad fire.

There are some credible people running and above all,…… the best advice I can give is get to know all of them by way of email or telephone or personal conversation. You do increase the value of your ballots by choosing fewer names, rather than choosing the full eight possible councillors.

Having watched Henry Braun work on our council this past three years, makes him my clear choice for Mayor.