Election 2014: Historic Surrey election looms

City of Surrey: Never has this city had three council seats to fill and only the fifth time since 1880 that there was no incumbent mayor

In 1963

In 1963

Surrey is headed for an historic election this fall, the likes of which the city has never seen.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is stepping down from the centre chair to run for the federal Conservative nomination in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale.

It will be only the fifth time since 1880 that contestants won’t have to upset an incumbent for the mayor’s chair.

In addition, Couns. Barinder Rasode and Linda Hepner are running for that position, leaving their seats vacant, and former councillor Marvin Hunt’s seat has been empty all year as he ran successfully with the provincial Liberals this spring and was elected MLA of Surrey-Panorama.

Never before in 134 years of civic government has Surrey had three vacant councillor chairs to fill, according to documents obtained by The Leader.

It likely means there will be a host of independents running for those spots. The deadline for candidates to register for the election is Friday, Oct. 10.

And the fight for the mayor’s chair – where it’s anyone’s game – will likely be an extremely hard-fought battle.

Surrey’s Elections Registrar Jane Sullivan hopes the unique aspects of this civic election will result in a much higher voter turnout.

Last year, only 25 per cent of eligible voters went to the polls. Low numbers usually indicate a high level of voter satisfaction with the status quo.

Surrey’s highest voter turnout since 1973 occurred in 1977 when controversial mayor Ed McKitka was ousted by Bill Vogel.

That year, voter turnout was 44.21 per cent.

In 1980, Don Ross upset Vogel when 41.34 per cent of voters cast their ballots.

In 1990, an impressive 37.95 per cent of the eligible electorate voted after an electoral brawl of a campaign, when Ross launched an impressive, but unsuccessful, bid to take out sitting mayor Bob Bose. In addition to that, there was a referendum that year asking residents about building height plans for Semiahmoo Town Centre, which likely added to voter interest.

Much more recently, 35 per cent of eligible voters hit the booth when Dianne Watts ousted sitting mayor Doug McCallum.

Despite those figures, since 1973, Surrey has averaged a paltry 28.87 per cent voter turnout.

In 1984, that dipped as low as 16.3 per cent showed up to vote. It came on the heels of the byelection of Jerry Huot who took Rita Johnston’s spot when she resigned.

For comparison, voter turnout at provincial elections during that time averaged 60.56; federally it was 67.8 per cent.

Part of the reason for that is people continually underestimate the impact local government has on their lives, Sullivan said.

“This is grassroots,” she said. “This is where you feel the direct impact of government.”

If the province or nation shuts down, the impact might not be seen by the public for some time.

But if the city shuts down for even a day, the impact is immediate.

Playing fields don’t get cut, garbage piles up, snowy roads don’t get plowed and building applications don’t get approved.

Sullivan’s job is to make sure the city hosts a good, clean election with no flaws.

However, her pet project is to get as many voters out as possible.

“We need to engage citizens,” Sullivan said. “And let them know they can make a difference.”

One other historic note of this election is that the people chosen for public office will be doing the job for four years – longer than any in this city’s history.

For more information about this election, how to register and how to vote, visit the City of Surrey Election site.

@diakiw

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service to begin public consultation late June, early July

Community input, chief constable says, ‘will occur’

Surrey RCMP reunited three stolen puppies with their mom. (RCMP handout)
Puppies stolen from South Surrey home located, reunited with mom

Surrey RCMP said they found the stolen puppies on April 16

Welcome to your park sign marks the spot where 84th Avenue will continue east from King George Boulevard 
to 140th Street as part of a $13 million road project. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Road Rage: Opposition mounts anew to Surrey’s plan for 84 Ave. at south end of Bear Creek Park

Same place, same project, same fight as Surrey prepares once again to connect 84th Avenue between King George and 140th Street in Newton

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

John Wekking, Merritt Road Report - Facebook
 Coquihalla Road Report
Wildfire sparks off Coquihalla in Merritt

The wildfire is located near the Dollarama off of Highway 5

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read