SURREY — A fifth Surrey First councillor has revealed he’s considering a run at the mayor’s chair, just days after Mayor Linda Hepner announced she wouldn’t be seeking re-election.
First-term Councillor Dave Woods, who served in the RCMP for 43 years before delving into the political arena, told the Now-Leader Friday he’s “considering it.”
He joins fellow Surrey First councillors Vera LeFranc, Tom Gill, Bruce Hayne and Mike Starchuk in expressing interest in the city’s top job.
Woods said he “purposefully held back comment” of his interest in mayoralty during Hepner’s announcement so as to not “cloud the situation” and give her the “respect that she’s due.”
“It’s a huge commitment, huge,” he said of the mayor’s position. “And being a mayor in the City of Surrey, boy, it’s not an easy grind. It’s a tough road. It doesn’t stop because you go home…. That’s why I have to think about it.”
Woods said he was “shocked” and “tongue-tied” when Hepner told the team Tuesday night she wouldn’t be running.
“It caught me off guard. It’s sort of sunk in now because I thought for sure all the way along that she was going to run,” he said.
Councillors Judy Villeneuve and Mary Martin both told the Now-Leader they have no interest in running for mayor.
Both also said they haven’t decided if they’ll seek re-election at all.
Martin, who was first elected to Surrey council in 2005, said she’s “undecided” as to whether she’ll run.
“I’m going to take the next little while to decide what exactly I’m going to do in the future,” she added
Villeneuve, who has served on council for more than two decades, said she intends to decide in June if she’ll run at all.
“I’m going to see how a certain couple things work out, personally,” Villeneuve said Friday.
Councillor Barbara Steele says she is not interested in running for mayor but that she is “definitely running for council” this fall.
Meantime, two new slates — Surrey Community Alliance (SCA) and People First Surrey — have materialized in Surrey that intend to challenge the reigning Surrey First party in the Oct. 20 civic election.
“People feel there is definitely a need for change,” according to Doug Elford, president of SCA, which replaces the former Surrey Civic Electors and Surrey Matters slates.
“They feel that eight years as a one-party system is not working to the satisfaction of neighbourhoods,” Elford added. “They want community minded people on council that are going to listen to the people of Surrey and not large business. Whether that’s the perception, that’s what people are saying — Surrey deserves better.”
The face of the People First Surrey party, Rajesh Jayaprakash, told the Now-Leader the party was born roughly a year and a half ago when some residents were “trying to understand the LRT.”
People First Surrey describes itself as a “non-traditional” election platform and takes “inspiration from (the reigning) Aam Aadmi Party of Delhi, India but their website states “we are in no way in touch with them or associated to them.”
A woman who fought tooth and nail to stop the City of Surrey from cutting down trees in Hawthorne Park also intends to run as a council candidate in the fall election.
Roslyn Cassells, who is a former Green Party park commissioner in Vancouver, took the City of Surrey to BC Supreme Court in January, citing SARA (Species at Risk Act) violations against endangered species in Hawthorne Park. She was unsuccessful in her bid when Justice T. Mark McEwan dismissed her petition to stop construction work.
Now, she said she hopes to effect change by shooting for a seat at the city’s council table.
“I think the City of Surrey is at a tipping point,” Cassells told the Now-LeaderFriday morning. “I think the citizens are ready for a change.”
She pointed to the “uprising over Hawthorne Park’s destruction,” and “a number of other actions by local residents to stop destructive projects in their communities” and accused the current council of “basically ignoring the will of the people.”
Cassells said she hasn’t decided if she’ll run as an independent or with a slate.
Surrey voters head to the polls on Oct. 20, 2018.