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

Just Posted

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

Agassiz tech training to connect generations

Upcoming event will have youth teaching technology to older residents

UPDATE: 24-year-old Lovepreet Dhaliwal ID’d as victim in targeted Abbotsford shooting

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

Harrison continues push for local doctor

Mayor has requested Fraser Health provide primary care services

Week in Review – January 19

Movie filming, water upgrades and more

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

VIDEO: Remember the Voyageurs at Fort Langley

Two-day historical festival underway

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Most Read