All Surrey mayoral candidates have wards in their sights

Some hopefuls promise to implement new voting system right away, while others will put the idea to referendum in 2018.

All of Surrey's current mayoral candidates support changing the city's electoral system.

All of Surrey's current mayoral candidates support changing the city's electoral system.

Surrey will either be getting a ward system or will be going to the polls to let citizens decide if they want one, according a Leader straw poll of current mayoral candidates.

Civic ward systems can take many forms, but generally, it means one or two councillors would be elected in each community to represent that area of the city.

The mayor would be elected at-large by voters across the city.

Surrey had a ward system in place from the first elected council in 1880 until 1957, when it was abolished by the province.

That was the year that Ward 7 seceded, creating its own municipality called White Rock.

Opponents have argued wards can lead to corruption, as one area representative horse trades with another to win projects for their districts.

However, in the last 20 years, there has been increasing pressure from the public to bring wards to Surrey.

Mayoral candidate Doug McCallum has vowed to implement a ward system here the day he’s elected.

His version would have four wards, with two councillors each. The mayor would be elected at-large.

Surrey First Coun. Linda Hepner told The Leader Thursday she isn’t a big fan of wards, but said she will hold a referendum in 2018 allowing the public to decide.

Coun. Barinder Rasode is supportive of bringing wards into the city. She said she’s hearing “loud and clear” from Surrey residents that’s what they want.

She sees no reason to bring it to referendum but favours an extensive public consultation process before the system is implemented.

Rasode also wants a “hybrid” system, where some councillors would be elected at-large, and the rest would represent wards.

Vikram Bajwa who declared his candidacy for mayor some time ago, believes wards are “nine years overdue.

He believes the electoral process has been “highjacked” over the last decade without one.

As passionate as he is about them, he wouldn’t implement wards without taking the idea to referendum.

In either case, after the November election, wards will likely be either in the works or the subject of serious discussion as the city prepares to go to referendum, although the victorious mayor will need the support of his or her council.





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