Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum joins the race. (File photo)

Municipal election

Doug McCallum, Tom Gill already squaring off in Surrey mayoral race

Gill ‘surprised’ McCallum’s running; McCallum doesn’t think Gill would make a good mayor

SURREY — Doug McCallum wants his old job back, Rich Coleman has decided to pass, and Dianne Watts is saying no way, Jose.

“We’re going for it — we’re going for mayor,” McCallum told the Now-Leader on Tuesday, breaking the news. He says his camp will run a full slate, the name of which has yet to be revealed, in Surrey’s Oct. 20th civic elections.

“We’ll be announcing that full slate in a little while,” he said.

Meanwhile, former BC Liberal cabinet minister Rich Coleman has decided against running for mayor of Surrey.

“It was a personal thing,” Coleman told Black Press Media on Tuesday.

“It came down to this. I don’t think I want to do it.”

Part of it was a preference for working in his own community rather than Surrey, Coleman said.

“I’m a Langley guy.”

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Former BC Liberal cabinet minister Rich Coleman. (File photo)

McCallum served as Surrey’s mayor from 1996 to 2005. He’s aiming for seismic change at city hall, if elected.

“My sense in the public is they want to see a change.”

That change would include dropping plans for light rail in favour of extending the SkyTrain Expo line down Fraser Highway.

Also, he said, “We’re going to pause development” in the city and “look at smart development in Surrey.”

Moreover, he added, “We’re going to go with our own police force.”

The RCMP, he said, often transfer and “don’t really connect with the communities they’re in.”

McCallum said Surrey residents have been telling him to “get it turned around. They see it (the city) going the wrong way.”

His Safe Surrey Coalition slate went toe-to-toe with Linda Hepner’s Surrey First slate in the last civic election, where she received 44,944 votes to his 24,706.

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Surrey Councillor Tom Gill, Surrey First’s mayoralty candidate. (Metro Vancouver video image)

He’ll now been squaring off against Tom Gill, Surrey First’s mayoralty candidate as Hepner is not seeking re-election.

As for Coleman, Gill said, “I think he made the right decision.”

For Gill, McCallum is yesterday’s man. “When it comes to Doug, I’m surprised he’s put his name forward,” he said, noting the city has grown by about 150,000 residents since McCallum was mayor.

Gill said Surrey “needs to know” that when McCallum was mayor he sold city lands to reconcile Surrey’s books. “To balance the budget he sold city lands.”

McCallum denies this. “No, I never did that,” he retorted. “That’s completely false.”

McCallum said of Gill, “I don’t think he would make a good mayor.” He noted that for Gill’s last two terms on council he was responsible for the city’s finances and community safety and his slate “just haven’t done anything about it.

“They haven’t done a good job,” the former mayor said of Surrey First. “In fact, they’ve done a terrible job.”

McCallum charged Surrey First ignored community opposition to light rail and opposition to developing a road through Hawthorne Park. He added “the public was in an uproar” when Gill supported a development on the Little Campbell River.

“He hasn’t listened to the community at all.”

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Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts. (File photo)

And Dianne Watts?

Some have wondered if the former mayor, who defeated McCallum in 2005 and ran Surrey until 2014, will seek a comeback.

But she quickly put that notion to rest, with a laugh, when contacted by the Now-Leader.

“Glad I’m not in Surrey politics,” Watts chuckled. “Wouldn’t that be funny if I threw my name into the wayback machine? I’m just happy to have a life.”

She’s now serving on various boards, including Canfor and Westshore Terminals Ltd., and advising other outfits as well.

with a file from Dan Ferguson



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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