Opinion: Not much separates Delta’s mayoral frontrunners

There were quite a few shades of grey at last week’s mayoral all-candidates forum in Tsawwassen and I’m not referring to the predominant hair colour of those in the audience.

The six vying to replace Lois Jackson were under the same roof for the first time at South Delta Secondary last Wednesday in what turned out to be a relatively tame affair considering some of the allegations that had been tossed around in the days leading up to the meeting.

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The reason voices weren’t raised during this discussion of the most pressing issues facing the city is because there’s a fair bit of agreement when it comes to said issues, at least there is among the three leading candidates. I’m obviously generalizing, but when you listen to their answers, as I did from near the back of the auditorium, there isn’t a whole lot that separates them on many topics.

They all see the need to create more affordable housing, but not at the expense of existing neighbourhoods. There are differences in their platforms to be sure, but they’re all headed in roughly the same direction.

The big three all seem to be comfortable with a casino coming to town, differing only on how to spend the gaming revenues. Protecting farmland is one of those motherhood issues so you’d expect them to all be on the same page, but they appear to be in step when it comes to mitigating the impacts of recreational marijuana and on the future of Ladner Harbour.

Even the often-divisive issue of a new Fraser River crossing didn’t necessarily put them at odds with one another as although George Harvie was unwavering in his support for a bridge, Sylvia Bishop and Jim Cessford said they could see themselves endorsing it too.

That contrarian voice -- the candidate who wants rapid transit instead of more asphalt, who is worried development is going to turn us into another Surrey or Richmond, who thinks a casino doesn’t fit our small town sensibilities – is largely absent, although you might find some of those kinds of viewpoints in the platforms of the three lesser known candidates.

Instead I suspect the choice for mayor for many voters is boiling down to who you like, who you trust, who you think will listen or who you believe is best suited for the top job.

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