Print Edition: November 9, 2011
Local Abbotsford citizen Meghann Coughlan is a 32-year-old mother of four who has lived in Abbotsford for 10 years and has now decided to run for mayor in this year’s civic election. She is registered to attend classes at UFV in the Winter 2012 semester in the event that she is not elected. Coughlan states that she is a “normal human being” in the community who is now trying to make a change. Coughlan spoke with The Cascade about some of the more heavily discussed issues in the election, and why she has decided to run.
Why run for mayor of Abbotsford?
I’ve lived here since 1991, and I’ve seen Abbotsford go through a lot of changes. We’re heading in the right direction, but it’s taking a little too long. If you don’t vote you can’t complain. What kind of person am I if I don’t try to change it when I know it needs to be changed? And there are a lot of things that are really unacceptable, fundamentally wrong with the way things are going here. So someone needs to do something. I’m running, and hopefully I win. I’m not hoping to win for the paycheque or the business card that says I’m the mayor. I’m hoping to win so that I can actually make a change. And if I don’t, maybe next time someone else will run that has a little more community credibility and they will take us in the right direction.
What are your goals specifically in running for mayor?
This isn’t Footloose, and it some times feels to a lot of people in the community that we’re living in the movie Footloose. There’s no reason for that. We’re so close to Vancouver, but Abbotsford is so closed to so many things that are important in society. I know that there are certain groups of people that do not feel as welcome here as other people. I think that is ridiculous. It’s 2011 – I think we need to stop being concerned with religion, sexuality and race. I see that a lot here and I know the council isn’t going to say that happens here because it doesn’t look good on paper. I would like to see us move forward. Property taxes are ridiculous, and they affect everybody. I know a lot of people don’t think it affects them if they rent, but it’s absolutely affecting you because your rents are going up. People can’t afford to live here. So if we’re looking at paying rents that are comparable to Vancouver, then Abbotsford as a city should be comparable to Vancouver. That’s the direction that I would like to go.
The election is largely going to be about water. What is your opinion on the proposed P3 project?
I’m hugely against P3. That’s ridiculous. I don’t see how that is an option. I don’t see how privatizing water is a good idea. I just don’t understand it. I’m not going to pretend to understand it. The city is bullying us by saying “Vote this, or you get no water”. I’ve actually compared [Jay] Teichroeb to the soup Nazi from Seinfeld. What are you talking about? They think we’re stupid. I’m going to look at city managers and economic development managers. When are their contracts up? I am annoyed. It seems like the council, aside from Patricia Ross, really seem arrogant, as if they had forgotten somewhere along the line that they have been voted in to serve people. So I want to bring it back to that. When I first moved here Abbotsford was more of a community of people that say, “Hello.” You say “hello” to people in the streets today and they grab their purses. I want to bring it back to normal. I don’t know what happened here.
What differentiates you from other candidates?
I’m not a career politician. I’m not money-hungry. I’m not in it for the paycheque or the prestige that’s supposed to go on with it. I’m in it because I really want to help the people, and I don’t think the council has been listening. I’ve talked to certain interest groups who have said they have approached council about things, but council just doesn’t listen… I’m absolutely just for the people. I want to represent the best interests of the people of Abbotsford. I want it to be an affordable place to live. I like to focus on crime prevention instead of punishment.