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Linda Hepner gauging support for the mayor's chair

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At least one Surrey councillor is gauging what support she has in a potential run for the mayor’s chair should it become vacant, The Leader has learned.

Coun. Linda Hepner has been making the rounds asking community members if she could have their support in a mayoral run in this November’s civic election.

The request is contingent on Mayor Dianne Watts not running again.

Other councillors are also considering the possibility should the seat become vacant.

Watts has said previously she would not serve more than three terms as mayor, and in fact proposed imposing term limits of nine years.

This is her third term (ninth year) as mayor.

When asked by The Leader Tuesday if she would be running for mayor this year, Watts said she’s focusing on the present.

“At this point in time, I’m concentrating on being mayor of the city. Period,” Watts said.

Hepner met with former Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal and Surrey businessman Satnam Johal last week to discuss her prospects in a run for mayor.

Hepner said she hopes Watts decides to continue running for mayor.

But if she doesn’t, Hepner said she would be honoured to represent the city in the top post.

Watts said she knew Hepner was checking the pulse of the community about a mayoral run, and said she suspects Coun. Barinder Rasode has been doing the same.

Rasode flatly denied that claim.

“I’m planning on running for Surrey First as a councillor,” Rasode said. “I’ve not considered it (a run as mayor) because the position isn’t available.”

If Watts chooses not to run, according to the Surrey First constitution, her successor on the team would be chosen by Surrey First council.

Rasode, who is not currently on positive terms with her colleagues, would be an unlikely mayoral selection for Surrey First.

“I wouldn’t have team support, I know that,” Rasode said. “At this point in time, there’s nothing to think about.”

Coun. Tom Gill said he hasn’t written off the possibility of running for mayor should that seat become available.

If he didn’t, he said it’s likely Hepner would have his support.

“My comments are that should I not have any interest in that position, certainly I would look at supporting a candidate such as Linda (Hepner),” Gill said.

Coun. Barbara Steele said she would “probably not” be interested in a run for mayor. “I wouldn’t count myself out 100 per cent, on first blush, it’s not something I would think of doing.”

Coun. Bruce Hayne said it’s something he “would certainly consider” if the seat became vacant. He noted he fully supports Watts running again.

Coun. Judy Villeneuve said she hasn’t given it any thought.

And Coun. Mary Martin said that she would absolutely not consider a mayoral run, saying she’s focusing on running with Surrey First as a councillor.

The general municipal election is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 15 this year.

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