John Van Laerhoven will be the District of Kent's mayor for the next three years

Councillor Van Laerhoven moves up to mayor’s seat

New mayor of the District of Kent is looking forward to continuing work on council

  • Nov. 25, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Of all those who threw their names into the civic election hat, John Van Laerhoven probably had the easiest election time.

With no one else running alongside him, the current councillor knew back in October that he’d become the District of Kent’s next mayor.

Current mayor Lorne Fisher had decided to run for council, and has since won, and no one else stepped up to the plate.

At the outset of the election period, Van Laerhoven told the Observer it was “a bit disappointing” not get the excitement of running a campaign. But in the end, he settled into that comfort zone, and began focusing on what he’d like to achieve in his three year term.

He even sat among the audience at the District of Kent’s all candidates debate a few weeks ago, to see the process from the other side of the coin.

“It was a lot easier to be watching,” he said, with a knowing smile. Whoever voters decided on, he was prepared to work with.

“We had credible candidates running,” he said. “And I want to thank the citizens who came out to vote.”

But he doesn’t see himself so much as a leader, or boss, as a part of an important team that will move the community forward.

“I value the team approach,” he said and wants to encourage open and frank discussion in council chambers.

He is proud of being a part of council the last three years, especially considering the council has managed to operate “with proper decorum.”

He is going into the job as mayor with a keen eye on the entire community, and not necessarily individual needs.

“It’s not about individuals, it’s about the community as a whole,” he said. “That’s what makes the job difficult. We have to look at all the information, listen to what people have to say, ask them questions, and then make the thoughtful decisions.”

It’s an approach, and the knowledge, that you can’t please all the people all the time.

Like most new mayors in B.C., Van Laerhoven will be meeting with his new council members over the next few days to find out where they’d like to devote their time.

With three years experience on council, he knows the time commitment involved with committees and portfolios. And it’s important to match council members up with the right causes.

“Anyone who has served knows they are making a significant commitment to the community,” Van Laerhoven said. “I want to applaud all of those who put their names forward.”

In particular, the roles filled by defeated councilor Ken Schwaerzle will have to be filled. Schwaerzle was a “great ambassador,” for the community of Agassiz, Van Laerhoven said.

“He gave a lot of his time on committees, attending a lot of meetings and often advocating for a lot of issues,” he said, and his love of the area was obvious.

While some mayors elected in are planning for sweeping changes, Van Laerhoven intends to step into the role quietly.

“I hope to make decisions that are good for the town, the future of the town and its citizens,” he said.

One of the items that has come up recently is the possibility of a new gymnasium that would be attached to the Fitness/ Activity Centre. The plans have only just come to council at its most recent regular meeting, and is in early stages. Funding may be available to help with the completion of the gym, which is the next phase of the 10-year-old fitness centre.

Van Laerhoven is supportive of the plan so far.

“When there are opportunities, we have to seize them,” he said.

Van Laerhoven has a bit of history with politics. A teacher for more than 30 years, he was also the Teacher’s Association President for two years, and the vice president for another two years.

Born in Holland, Van Laerhoven moved to Canada with his family at age five. They lived in Saskatchewan for one year before traveling to B.C. He and his wife Cathy have raised three children in Agassiz.

The new council will be sworn in on December 5 during a special council meeting.

news@ahobserver.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Financial literacy program expands across the Fraser Valley

Big Brain Literacy Program aims to help folks thwarted by the pandemic and in need of budgeting help

Major ride-hailing companies can now operate in Harrison

Vancouver gives green light to Uber, Lyft

Missing Maple Ridge man’s car found in Harrison

Michael Denham has been missing since June 27

UFV grads of 2020 honoured in innovative ways

No convocation ceremony due to pandemic, but grads receive ‘celebration box’

Peak on the lower Fraser River expected to arrive Monday

Peak predicted for July 6, with flows decreasing from there: River Forecast Centre

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. homeowners plead for action on condo insurance crisis

Strata property fees growing bigger than mortgage payments

Indigenous man behind complaint of BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy has died

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argued that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

Fraser Valley Bandits complete 2020 coaching staff

Four names added for the 2020 CEBL season, which begins on July 26 for the club

Pubs accused of ‘negligently’ serving alcohol before Surrey traffic crash

The case concerns an Aug. 2, 2015 single-vehicle crash

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Most Read