The “non-traditional” People First Surrey slate has announced it has a mayoral candidate, and has revealed a third council contender for the upcoming Oct. 20 election.
Rajesh Jayaprakash, a technologist with Telus, is seeking the mayor’s chair and Paul Rusan is joining the team as a council candidate.
“I think somebody has to roll up their sleeves and do it,” said Jayaprakash when asked what made him jump into the mayoral race. “I’m pretty comfortable. We spent quite a lot of time thinking about it, researching it, we’re pretty comfortable. If you look at our policies we’re bringing to the table, it’s a pretty bold, practical approach. It’s not just some talking points.”
The slate’s 16-point platform is outlined on its website, peoplefirstsurrey.ca, but as Jayaprakash explains, it’s evolving.
“We’re going to give people an opportunity to add more things, refine things,” he said, which will be done by way of the live videos on the group’s Facebook page from 8 to 8:30 p.m. every night in September.
Their platform, he said, will officially be finalized at the end of that month.
Some highlights of the current platform outlined online include advocating for SkyTrain and bus service instead of LRT, proposes a high-tech camera system be developed to “identify, record and prove crimes,” a “built up and build more” housing approach, and an “E-Votes” online voting system for residents on contentious issues.
Jayaprakash said the party wants to give people a voice, and an opportunity to affect policies. That collaboration is something he said is lacking from the current council.
“We believe it’s not being done,” he added. “Collective ideas are much better than one person thinking they’re all knowing. Some examples, we are starting with, ‘What do you think about LRT versus SkyTrain.’ But it’s coming back that that’s not the biggest problem. It’s social integration. People are living in different pockets of ethnic communities. We were baffled by hearing that.
“When we regrouped and thought about that, we thought, this is actually true. LRT and SkyTrain may be a long-term problem but if you’re looking at it from a community angle, cultural integration is a big problem. We need to acknowledge that and do something about it. We’re doing a lot of things in Surrey on multiculturalism, we’re wasting a lot of money, and not making a difference.”
Jayaprakash’s submitted biography notes he has penned papers on advancing consumer privacy and informed consent in the digital era, and has a master’s degree in computer applications, having worked in the U.S. and Canada for more than a decade.
“On the social front, Rajesh was instrumental in starting small community language sections in Surrey Libraries,” according to a release. “Having run a library from the trunk of his car, driving around to deliver and pick up books for a few years, he convinced city libraries to start a section for community language books. Getting this done took four years of persuasion with various libraries in Vancouver, Burnaby and finally, Surrey.”
Meantime, the party’s new council candidate Rusan is a financial analyst and former director of finance for KPIRG (Kwantlen Public Interest Group).
He’s currently employed by the Vancouver School Board, and describes himself as a “hardworking Surrey resident who loves his community and cares deeply about Surrey.”
“He was the leader of various student associations where he consolidated his leadership and problem-solving skills,” a release notes. “With years of community service under his belt, Paul believes it is time for a completely new direction for the city government and greater co-operation between south-of-Fraser cities.”
In a statement, Rusan said: “This election is about the future of our city. We need a new vision for the city and we find that in People First Surrey.”
People First Surrey - which describes itself as “non-traditional”- has two other candidates: Kuldip Pelia and Thampy Rajan.
Other slates running in the fall election include former Surrey mayor Doug McCallun’s Safe Surrey Coalition, Surrey First with Tom Gill as its mayoral candidate, Bruce Hayne’s Integrity Now team, and the “left-leaning” Proudly Surrey.
The Surrey Community Alliance party seems to have been dissolved after founder Doug Elford split to run with McCallum. Council candidates on that slate (Asad Syed, Saira Aujla, Bernie Sheppard and Imtiaz Popat) are considered independents for the time being.
Surrey voters head to the polls on Oct. 20.
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See also: Doug McCallum running for Surrey mayor