Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is giving serious consideration to running for the job again this fall.
The Leader has learned the South Surrey resident, who was ousted by Mayor Dianne Watts in 2005, is likely coming back for a run at the centre chair this November.
Sources say he will make the announcement on July 7.
McCallum said in an interview Friday he’s giving it serious thought.
“I’m giving it consideration, but I haven’t made a decision yet,” McCallum said.
He says he has a lot of support.
“There are a lot of people out there pushing me, I’ll say that,” McCallum said. “I can see out there where there are people out there who think we need to have a tighter fiscal policy.”
He believes far too much money was wasted moving the city hall from Newton to Whalley, and believes a much tighter reign on city finances is in order.
He says he’s ready for the task.
“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been,” McCallum said.”I’ve lost 20 pounds, I bike every day at Crescent Beach. I’m probably in better shape than when I was mayor.”
He believes the first issue that need to be tackled is crime.
“We have to address public safety end of it,” McCallum said. “I think it’s just a matter of sitting down and working with the RCMP and saying we want to see a lot more proactive and preventive type of policing and police officers on the streets. If that means more hiring more staff to hire their administrative duties, then we need to do that.”
He said council’s promise of 95 police officers over the next five years is fine, but that number should come in over the next two years.
“They need to go right out onto our streets,” McCallum said.
McCallum wants to double the civic funding for Surrey Crime Prevention Society to bolster the presence of that public safety element.
He wants to see a much more proactive approach to crime reduction.
“Right now the police are a lot more reactive than investigative,” McCallum said. “Crime happens and they spend a lot of the time in the office writing it up. If we can get out in front of the crime, then you won’t have that.”
The second most pressing issue, he says, is transportation.
He said when he was chair of TransLink, the transportation authority “built a huge amount of transportation.”
It included the “largest order in the world of trolley buses,” and highway buses.
“We also built the Golden Ears Bridge and we built the Canada Line,” McCallum said.
McCallum said the current council has fallen short on its lobbying efforts to senior levels of government.
“You’ve got to talk to them every day, or every week,” McCallum said. “There’s windows of opportunity, and right now, federally, with an election next year, there’s a huge window of opportunity and we should be contacting Ottawa every week.”
He said development in this city has grown stagnant.
“In Newton… I guess I’m dismayed,” he said. “When we were involved, we were really looking at building that town centre and putting in a lot of recreation and community centres in behind the pool.”
He said he could boil down his concerns about Surrey into three topics: “Safe, clean and active.”
“I think we need to really, really get going on building in Newton and complete that recreation town hall concept in Newton.”
That work would have to start immediately.
“If I was to run — if I was lucky enough to get elected — they would have to start the day after I get elected,” McCallum said.
“There’s been too much planning, too much talking, too much trips overseas, and consulting, and a ton of reports,” McCallum said. “I think it’s time to make decisions and get on with it.”
McCallum brings with him name recognition and experience. A fiscal conservative, McCallum has many members of the community who supported the job he did as mayor from 1996 to 2005.
However, he was ousted amid much controversy in 2005.
The most prominent issue was the time he constricted the scope of a sexual harassment investigation into one ofof his senior managers – first reported in The Leader in July 2005.
Months before the story broke, Vancouver lawyer Richard Hamilton was hired to look into the issue after Surrey’s human resources department received a complaint of sexual harassment.
Hamilton found many more who had been affected.
“Each of the witnesses whom I met exhibited fear of retribution as a result of providing information,” Hamilton wrote in a letter to McCallum and the human resources department.
McCallum told Hamilton to keep to the one complaint.
“He advised that since he had only been made aware of one complaint, that was the only one which the city was willing to investigate,” Hamilton wrote in the letter obtained by The Leader.
McCallum said at the time that he was acting in keeping with the city’s Respectful Workplace Policy.
Despite the controversy, voters have short memories.
If McCallum and his supporters can play up his fiscal record (which included a 10-year freeze on taxes), the rest may be dismissed when it comes time to go to the polls.
The election will be held Nov. 15 this year.