Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Surrey mayoral hopefuls asked how they’ll ‘restore public confidence’ in city hall

All eight candidates weighed in during a Tuesday night all-candidates meeting in Cloverdale

How would Surrey’s mayoral candidates “restore public confidence” in city hall, if elected?

It was a question posed to those seeking the mayor’s chair during a Sept. 25 all-candidates meeting hosted by the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce and the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association at Kwantlen Polytechnic University Tech Campus in Cloverdale.

Candidates were asked how they would “restore public confidence” in city hall after two decades of “widely held public perception that Surrey city hall has been plagued with biased favours and possible acts of bribery or corruption with respect to real estate development.”

Safe Surrey Coalition’s Doug McCallum, who served as Surrey’s mayor from 1996 to 2005, briefly outlined his idea for an ethics commissioner at the session — candidates had one minute each to respond to the question.

In a Sept. 25 press release issued before the Cloverdale meeting, his slate vowed to make this a “permanent office” at city hall, and stated it would “ensure transparency and fair treatment of all citizens.”

“Good government comes from having a clear focus on priorities that are important to the citizens,” McCallum said in the release.

See also: Mayoral candidates weigh in on Cloverdale concerns at first all-candidates meeting

See also: ‘Speed dating’ all-candidates meeting in Surrey zeroes in on homelessness and housing

During Cloverdale’s event, Integrity Now candidate Bruce Hayne said that he found rumours of corruption “very troubling,” and that they were part of the motivation behind his slate’s promise of a “360 degree review” of every city department to ensure processes are fair.

If elected, Hayne said he would also institute an ombudsman office at city hall, which would have the authority to look into any allegations “completely independent of mayor and council, or senior management.”

Mayoral hopeful Imtiaz Popat said “ask anybody and they’ll tell you how bad the corruption is at city hall.”

“And that started when McCallum was mayor,” he added, “so it’s been going on for quite awhile.”

Popat, who is with the Progressive Sustainable Surrey slate, agreed that Hayne’s idea of an ombudsman office was “not bad,” and went further to say that if elected, he would want to see an independent fiscal office to provide checks on all projects.

Pauline Greaves, who is running for mayor with the Proudly Surrey slate, advocated for a strong professional code of conduct that all city employees would be required to follow, as well as a strict conflict of interest policy.

If elected, she would explore eliminating the “silo” effect of the city’s current department structure — ensuring inter-department connection and oversight.

People First Surrey’s mayoral hopeful Rajesh Jayaprakash said his slate was formed because of their strong belief in transparency. He pointed to their website as an example of how they are “breaking the cycle” by allowing potential voters to see every dollar of donations to their slate.

Francois Nantel, an independent candidate running for mayor, said it was “fascinating to hear the so-called amount of corruption,” and echoed support for an ombudsman or an investigating office.

Another independent, John Wolanski, did not provide an answer for how to restore public confidence, but commented he was “totally amazed at the amount of realtors running for city council.”

For his part, incumbent councillor and Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Tom Gill said that during his time as chair of finance “the Government Finance Officer Association has given us awards for budgets, and annual budgets, in terms of presentation. So we have done exceptionally well.”

Gill said that, if elected, his mayor’s office would ensure that fairness would be provided.

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Other election news:

See also: Mayoral candidates weigh in on Cloverdale concerns at first all-candidates meeting

See also: ‘Speed dating’ all-candidates meeting in Surrey zeroes in on homelessness and housing

See also: A list of all-candidates meetings in Surrey

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See also: ELECTION QUESTIONS: Does Surrey need its own police force?

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See also: Cloverdale realtor Becky Zhou to run for Surrey council

See also: John Wolanski to run for Surrey mayor

See also: Surrey First promising free access to pools, rinks and gyms for Surrey youth

See also: Proudly Surrey says asbestos needs to be removed from all schools, now

See also: EXCLUSIVE: Why we left Surrey First

See also: VIDEO: Surrey First announces full slate of candidates

See also: Mayoral candidate Pauline Greaves joins Proudly Surrey slate

See also: Parshotam Goel joins Proudly Surrey slate

See also: Steven Pettigrew and Jack Hundial join McCallum’s Safe Surrey slate

See also: Proudly Surrey announces fourth school board candidate

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See also: Brenda Locke, Mandeep Nagra join McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition

See also: BUCHOLTZ: Surrey First naysayer goes out with a bang

See also: Woods joins Hayne’s Integrity Now slate as Surrey council candidate

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See also: Proudly Surrey wants to build a Rita Johnston statue, rename the Pattullo to Bob Bose Bridge

See also: McCallum keeps ‘Safe Surrey Coalition’ name, announces new candidate

See also: Rina Gill joins Bruce Hayne’s ‘Surrey Integrity Now’ party

See also: Doug Elford resigns from his Surrey party to run with McCallum

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