After splitting from Surrey First, Councillor Dave Woods has revealed to the Now-Leader that he will join Bruce Hayne’s Integrity Now slate for the upcoming Oct. 20 election.
It’s a decision, Woods said, that was about “integrity.”
“It’s a good fit for me. (Hayne’s) thinking is very similar to my thinking,” Woods said on Wednesday. “The (hand) gun issue has come to the forefront, but it’s much more than that. He assured me that if I came on the team, I would have my independent stance, like I’ve had in the past with Surrey First.”
Current councillors Bruce Hayne and Barabara Steele also split from Surrey First this year, with Hayne as the newly formed Integrity Now slate’s mayoral candidate.
Woods followed suit and split on Aug. 22 after Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Tom Gill said he supports a federal handgun ban in an interview the previous Friday, something Woods claims he wasn’t consulted on and doesn’t agree with.
“In that story, when I was interviewed, they asked me my personal opinion on handguns,” said Gill, who responded to the split saying it was “unfortunate” Woods chose to leave the party, but that he had been invited to a platform discussion meeting including the gun topic meeting that lasted three-and-a-half hours.
“Dave chose not to show up, for whatever reason,” said Gill, noting Woods resigned the following day.
For his part, Woods said at the time that he had “no confidence the movement towards a more open, collaborative, and transparent culture within the party will exist and, therefore, I will not be seeking re-election as a member of Surrey First.”
Now, Woods says his thinking aligns with Hayne.
“I’ve always respected Bruce. I knew him well before he was on council,” said Woods, a former police officer. “And I’ve respected Barbara.”
Woods said he and Hayne are “committed to doing the right thing for our city and current citizens.”
“Is there a need for us to build housing for the overall general public? Yes, there is, but our citizens have to come first — our current taxpayers,” he added.
Woods pointed to his voting record when it comes to development, saying he voted “over 115 times” against developments he thought weren’t appropriate for a given community.
“Development is good for the city but it has to be done in a smart, sustainable way,” Woods said.
Woods elaborated on his split from Surrey First.
He said the “last straw” was when Gill spoke publicly about supporting a federal handgun ban, but added that Gill hadn’t been “walking the talk” previous to that.
“What Bruce says in public, he says in private. That is a huge point with me — walking the talk,” said Woods. “I spoke up quite a bit behind closed doors… I’m a strong independent thinker.
“I think quite frankly, if you look at Vancouver and you look at Surrey, they have had the same sort of prominent political parties for the last 10 years and I think this is a natural evolution. I think it’s time for change.”
Hayne said he’s glad to have Woods on his team.
“I don’t always agree with him on some policy issues, and we have certainly voted differently on many occasions on council but I really respect his integrity and his moral compass,” Hayne said, adding that he’s “intentionally” not running a full slate, because he wants to have “other voices, opinions and ideas at the table.”
With Surrey First councillors Judy Villeneuve and Mary Martin announcing they are not seeking re-election that leaves incumbent councillors Mike Starchuk and Vera LeFranc on the Surrey First slate at this point, with Gill as the party’s mayoral candidate.
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.
Click here to read more election stories.