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Langford's mayor-elect is putting his business on pause to work as mayor full time

He currently lives in Saanich but plans to build a new home in Langford.
Langford mayor-elect Scott Goodmanson at his campaign tent trailer on his parents' property near Langford Lake. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Reality is setting in for Scott Peter Goodmanson.

The landscaper, who ended Stew Young’s 30-year reign as mayor of Langford on Saturday, said he’s ready to trade his hardhat for a suit and tie, roll up his sleeves and take the helm of the province’s fastest-growing city.

“Do I think it’s going to be a steep learning curve? Of course,” Goodmanson said Monday. “I am committed to learn all I can as quickly as I can … I’m 100 per cent committed.”

Goodmanson said he received a phone call from Langford city manager Darren Kiedyk “three minutes” after results — showing Goodmanson had out-polled Young 4,483 votes to 3,796, and captured 53 per cent of the vote — were posted Saturday

“He said don’t worry.”

A meeting is scheduled today at city hall with Kiedyk “to sort out what we’re doing and expand on what’s to come,” said Goodmanson. He will also take part in an orientation designed to bring political newcomers up to speed on procedures, policies and city staffing before being sworn in on Nov. 7.

His first order of business will be to change council meeting times to 7 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m., so people have time to get home from work and feed their families, “something the mayor doesn’t realize.”

Goodmanson said he ran for mayor to allow more voices to be heard on the rapid pace of development and how it affects neighbourhoods, including the downtown core. He wants Langford to continue to grow, but said the city needs environmental protections like an enhanced tree bylaw and a code of conduct around the council table to ensure fair processes.

The Goodmanson family is personally facing the pressures of development: A 56-acre parcel within metres of their property has been cleared and is being levelled with blasting, with heavy trucks pounding neighbourhood roads. It is zoned for industrial and residential uses.

The 49-year-old mayor-elect said plans have already been drawn up to build a new home on his parents’ subdivided property on Langford Lake.

He’s currently living in Saanich and is winding down his pond excavation and gardening business.

“I told people while I was campaigning that being mayor is going to be a full-time job for me, and I’m going to focus everything on that and not run a business on the side,” he said.

Goodmanson, who grew up in Langford, said the shock of unseating Young had worn off by Monday. “You know, I woke up today and I said: ‘Let’s get going.’ ”

The longtime mayor wasn’t the only one defeated on Saturday: Langford Now, a grassroots slate of five political novices, knocked off all of the mayor’s key allies on council. Lillian Szpak, the only current councillor left standing, had clashed with Young and endorsed Langford Now.

Although Goodmanson was not part of the slate, the group did endorse him as an alternative to Young.

Young, who had hoped to begin his fourth decade at the city’s helm, has been credited — and lately criticized — for shepherding in rapid development in Langford.

Langford Now candidates say they are not against development, but want to listen to residents and gauge the long-term effects that any new projects bring to neighbourhoods, including environmental impacts and transportation infrastructure issues. Like Goodmanson, they also want more voices to be heard at council meetings — a major criticism against Young.

Langford has only had one other mayor since it was incorporated in 1992. Young started his political career as councillor that year, and won seven consecutive terms as mayor, working closely with developers to rapidly build out every corner of the municipality, including Westhills, Bear Mountain and now towers in the downtown core.

Goodmanson said he’s never met Young, but respects what’s he’s done in Langford.

“He’s done a lot of good work, I have to say that,” Goodmanson said. “I said to people on the campaign that Mr. Young had built the foundation for Langford, and now we are going to build a new foundation on that.”

Young was still in a state of shock on Monday and worried about the direction the new mayor and council could take the city.

“It is what is it. … Give them credit for getting the vote out,” said Young, 62.

Voter turnout improved this election to 24 per cent from 18 per cent in 2018 — one of the lowest in the province.

“I just hope they’re willing to work with [developers and staff] … that’s my fear,” Young added. “I hope they are knowledgeable enough to know it takes partnerships to build a community that went from 5,000 people to 50,000 people.”

Political analyst David Black, associate professor in the school of communication and culture at Royal Roads University, said Langford experienced a “wave election,” where a new and energized slate of candidates gave residents an alternative to an entrenched mayor and council.

He said voters expressed their concerns that “development is good, but we’ve had enough for now.”

With little political competition over several years, Black said the emergence of new candidates brought swift change.

He said bad habits can form with long-standing mayors and councils.

“There can be a culture of poor communication, lack of transparency, abrasive [behaviour] and a sense of entitlement after that many years in power,” Black said.

“That added some energy to the election.”

As for the darkhorse Goodmanson, Black said he was in the right place at the right time, ­riding the wave of a new slate with fresh ideas.

He said the workload for the political newcomers will be substantial. “Big decisions now have to be made without training or experience.”

Young said he retired two years ago from his active businesses, which include a soil delivery company and a restaurant supply business. He also has interests in some local restaurants.

“I gave a lot of my time … 60 hours a week at least for 30 years, and a lot more in the past couple of years,” he said. “I was doing some math, and figure I’ve done more than 80,000 meetings whether on council or with people or businesses. I was never afraid of the work.”

Young said he isn’t going anywhere — “Langford’s my home” — and will continue to consult with developers and businesses “to keep Langford on top.”

“Scott Goodmanson will have to put in many hours to keep this community on top,” he said. “I don’t know the man or what he’s about, but there is going to have to be a huge commitment to keep taxes low and create jobs and build housing and services for families.”

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