Brenda Locke is Surrey’s new mayor-elect.
“We’ll get to work tomorrow,” she said Saturday night during her victory speech at the Mirage banquet hall in Cloverdale. “We’ve got a bit of work to do.”
Locke will be joined on council by her Surrey Connect colleagues Harry Bains, Gordon Hepner, Rob Stutt and Pardeep Kaur Kooner.
She said her No. 1 priority is to deal with the public safety sector of the community and stop the police transition from RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.
Locke said she and her team have a “great plan” to keep the Surrey RCMP as the city’s police of jurisdiction.
“We will not leave any of the SPS officers behind, we will pick them up.”
A group of Surrey Mounties standing outside Locke’s party at the Mirage banquet hall in Cloverdale had “no comment” about the results but smiled at the question.
Congratulations to Mayor-Elect Brenda Locke. Although we have not seen eye-to-eye the last few years, we are looking forward to meeting all the newly elected officials and moving the forward with the SPS transition.
— Surrey Police Union (@surreypolunion) October 16, 2022
Locke beat incumbent mayor Doug McCallum by only 973 votes to take the city’s top job.
Locke won with 33,311 votes to McCallum’s 32,338. Gordie Hogg came in third with 24,916, followed by Jinny Sims (14,895) and Sukh Dhaliwal (9,629). Coming in the final three spots were Amrit Singh Birring (2,270), John Wolanski (646) and Kuldip Pelia (385).
Voter turnout was 34.54 per cent.
Asked why she beat McCallum, Locke replied, “Doug McCallum embarrassed our residents.”
“I am a much more collaborative person.”
For his part, McCallum told his supporters Saturday night at Reflections Banquet Hall that it might be time to relax.
“I’ve worked hard for the city for many years,” he said. “And maybe it’s time for me to finally put my feet up a little bit and enjoy life.”
Click here to see the official results from election night in Surrey.
Surrey's mayor elect Brenda Locke celebrating her win with her grandaughter. pic.twitter.com/o4eSnIwNUA
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) October 16, 2022
— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) October 16, 2022
Locke, who has been a resident of Surrey for nearly four decades, has served for many years with non-profits organizations and was an MLA, a provincial cabinet minister and has been a Surrey City councillor since 2018.
Surrey is the second largest in the province and is growing rapidly, which is why serving its residents is crucial for Locke. Creating affordable housing for young people and families, having a more efficient transit system and continuing the growth of Surrey are her slate’s major goals, she said.
Another priority for the Surrey Connect slate, she said, is to move forward with Surrey Memorial Hospital’s addition of a third tower to help address the health care crisis. Locke feels that infrastructure development is lagging behind in the city, and pledges to decrease permit wait times for construction.
Locke and her Surrey Connect slate plan to create more entertainment spaces throughout a rapidly growing Surrey. This includes a sports facility or convention centre and areas to promote a vibrant nightlife.
Transparency is something Locke feels is lacking under the current administration. It’s something she promises to achieve. She will accomplish this, she said, by consulting frequently with the people of Surrey, allowing them to be a bigger part of the decision-making process, Locke said.
With her election win, Locke now has promises to keep. This is what she told Black Press Media during her campaign:
Q: What are the biggest lessons that you have learned from your time on council and is there anything that you wish you had done differently?
The whole issue of the police transition has been handled so terribly that there is no way that it can or should be supported. So I think that’s a pretty important thing.
What I would have done differently, I would have never ever accepted that that should have been evoked at an inaugural meeting. That was trickery by the mayor. And I think that was highly inappropriate. But the fact is, this whole notion of a transition did not start with Doug McCallum. It started with the previous council. And their process was one that was really well thought-out and one of due diligence.
I think that there has been so much damage done on the notion of the transition at this point. I think the public has been loud and clear. They want this to stop. We need to put stability back into public safety and Surrey. We need to resource it better, not just policing fire too. We need to start looking at public safety in a more holistic way. And spending time on all aspects including fire, police and bylaws.”
Former Surrey Connect councillor Jack Hundial shares thoughts on Surrey council's new configuration. pic.twitter.com/drXQot4WVZ
— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) October 16, 2022
Q: If you are elected and are able to stop the police transition, how will you make sure that Surrey residents are confident in that decision and will not incur a huge financial burden?
We will be absolutely transparent on the numbers. I asked the SPS to give us a line-by-line accounting. You know what the answer was? ‘No.’ We are going to do a process of getting input from residents and to share input on budget issues.
If we keep on going down this road with the SPS, we can just either forget about building any additional infrastructure, or look at our taxes going out of sight. And I can tell you the other thing, even with this SPS moving forward, your taxes on an average house will go up over $500 a year. That’s a very conservative number and I can show that. We actually do have a lot of the numbers.
So if we look back at the last 10 years with the RCMP, our 10 per cent that comes back to the city has been $126 million. Moving forward from 2022 to 2032, that’s probably going to go up over $200 million. We can build so many rec centers, right now, our rebate back from the federal government is about $25 million.
Those are numbers that I get from the CFO at Surrey. We know that the cost of this transition is going to be extraordinary and I cannot ask young families with high mortgages of $900,000 to have an additional big expense. And that will be immediate, that will be within the next two years. It just can’t happen. The public can’t afford it, especially when we’re going into these very trying financial times and potentially a recession. So I’m very worried about that.”
– With files by Sobia Moman