SURREY – In what is expected to be the most exciting election race in Surrey in the last decade, there’s no shortage of choices.
The seventh mayoral candidate jumping into the race is Grant Rice, who ran for a council seat under the left-leaning Surrey Civic Coalition banner in the 2008 and 2011 elections.
"It was a last-minute
CI IC decision based on frustration based on what’s going on in our political scene," he told the Now Friday morning of his decision to run for the city’s top job. "I can’t stand it, I have to do something," he added.
Rice is a regular face at city council meetings. A founding member of the Surrey Urban Farmers Market, Rice is a local food activist who fights for the protection of farmland.
"I have been appearing before council for over a decade, advocating for environmental protection, better transparency and fiscal
responsibility," Rice said.
He has volunteer experience with the Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition and currently works for a farmer’s market and a food security organization.
Rice says he cares most about environmental and social justice issues.
"Too often, our city’s trees and green spaces are sacrificed for profit," he said. "We live in a city that is growing fast, and politicians have lost sight of what attracted citizens to Surrey in the first place."
While he acknowledges crime as an important issue, and one that is top of mind for residents, he said there’s a lot more to talk about, including transportation, affordable housing, bylaw enforcement, food security and more.
On the crime front, Rice thinks an integrated metropolitan police force needs to be discussed.
And if elected, Rice plans to would redirect secondary suite fees toward building rental housing. "This will include changing the focus of the Surrey City
Development Corporation, and divesting the SCDC from riskier ventures," he noted.
As well, he hopes to develop a Surrey food policy.
"I propose that Surrey offer land, staff support and low interest financing for a food hub co-operative in the Newton Town Centre," he said.
Declared mayoral candidates thus far are Rice, Linda Hepner, Barinder Rasode, Doug McCallum, Vikram Bajwa and John Edwards.
John Wolanski has filed his nomination papers to run for Surrey mayor but has not yet responded to the Now’s request for an interview.
While Surrey had two slates in 2011, there are at least four this time around: Hepner’s
Surrey First, Rasode’s One Surrey and Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition.
And former Surrey MLA Brenda Locke is running as TeamSurrey with commercial realtor Stephen Gammer.
While Rasode told the Now about her team earlier this week, she’s since announced the final member of One Surrey: a Vancouver Police Department officer with more than two decades of experience.
Kal Dosanjh served 15 years as a patrol officer and recently transferred to the investigative division as a detective. For the last eight years, he’s served in the Downtown Eastside.
Dosanjh has received policing awards for his performance. He currently serves on a number of community organizations including the BC Human Rights Coalition and SOAR Philanthropic Society.
Dosanjh says he is dedicated to empowering and inspiring youth and has spent years raising awareness about how sports and fitness can help divert kids from drugs and gang life.
Locke said Friday the two-person Team Surrey is about, "a safer city, a stronger city and an accountable city."
After announcing her intentions to run in April, Locke told the Now she wants to see a cohesive vision of Surrey as a whole, rather than a handful of community hubs.
She’s also concerned about the gentrification of Whalley, and wants to see more social issues addressed in Whalley and Newton in particular.
"I’m very concerned about what has been going on with Whalley and the inaction that I see, and the growth of the homelessness issue in Surrey. That’s a big problem to me."
Locke said if elected, she would also fight for more ice arenas and opportunities for Surrey youth to participate in hockey, curling and other ice sports.
While Gammer hasn’t run for office, Locke said he has been involved in her campaigns in the past, and was involved in the Surrey Electors Team as well.
Locke served as Liberal MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers from 2001 to 2005. Among other duties, she served as Minister of State for Mental Health and Addictions Services.
TeamSurrey is not running a mayoral
candidate, and the two candidates hope to just be another voice at the council table.
"We want to be that sober second thought on council as well," Locke said. "A council that is dominated by one slate is not healthy."
Locke said Gammer, a commercial realtor, has a background in the social services sector through involvement in drug and addictions issues as a director of a not-for-profit.
And in addition to slate council candidates, there are a variety of independents who have filed nomination papers according to Civic Info BC as of 3:30 p.m. Friday: Saira Aujla, Tanvir Bhupal Cliff Blair, Obi Canuel (Surrey’s "Pastafarian"), Nav Dhanoya, Fiona Dionne, Rita Elvins, Shawn Francis, Gary Hoffman, Jas Dhillon, Jim McMurtry, Martin Rooney,and Rick Scorsese.
The nomination deadline for all candidates was Friday, Oct. 10, after the Now’s deadline.
-With files from Tom Zytaruk