McCallum holds higher level of familiarity than Hepner: Surrey poll

McCallum holds higher level of familiarity than Hepner: Surrey poll

SURREY — With less than four months to go before Surrey heads to the polls to elect a new mayor, a new Insights West poll suggests Doug McCallum holds a higher level of familiarity than current Coun. Linda Hepner.

Former mayor McCallum received an 83 per cent familiarity rate in the survey, while Hepner received 67 per cent.

Mario Canseco, vice president of public affairs at Insights West, said the results were “certainly eyecatching.”

“Here’s someone who’s been away from politics for some time and he’s still at 83 per cent,” he said of McCallum. “He’s certainly going to have an influence on the election.”

The survey found both mayoral contenders are recognized by most residents 55 and over – 96 per cent for McCallum and 81 per cent for Hepner. McCallum has a higher level of familiarity than Hepner among residents aged 18 to 34 (64 to 46 per cent) and those aged 35 to 54 (87 to 74 per cent).

The online survey also showed Surrey residents are largely on board with Doug McCallum’s idea to bring a ward system to the city (53 per cent of residents called it a “very good” or “good” idea), but not with Hepner’s idea of constructing a ferris wheel near the Pattullo Bridge (72 per cent of those surveyed deemed the idea “bad” or “very bad”).

Canseco said it’s too early for to ask residents a “head-to-head voting intention question,” as more candidates are expected to launch their campaigns.

“We looked instead at how many residents who are familiar with either one of the two declared contenders already consider them as options worth of their vote in November,” he said.

The poll found that of those familiar with McCallum, 40 per cent said they are “very likely” or “moderately likely” to vote for him in the upcoming election.

When it comes to Hepner, 37 per cent of those familiar with her said they are “very likely” or “moderately likely” to support her come November.

Canseco said Coun. Barinder Rasode wasn’t included in the poll because she hasn’t officially declared her intentions to run for mayor.

“If Rasode announces soon, you’re going to have three very credible people,” he stated, adding that it could end up being a very close race.

And according to Canseco, “there’s a lot to be said about the (campaign) teams they’re assembling.”

Meanwhile, crime continues to be the number one concern of residents, at 45 per cent, followed by transportation at 21 per cent, poverty at 10 per cent and economic development at eight per cent.

In an Insights West poll, released March 7, it was found that 51 per cent of residents see crime as the number-one issue. This came on the heels of Surrey setting a new murder record in 2013. The city recorded 25 homicides last year, while the previous record of 21 was set in 2005.

Canseco said it was interesting to see that crime is still the top concern, noting it’s rare for a municipal issue to be at more than 40 per cent.

“There’s still a lot of people who are uneasy on this. I think whoever connects better on crime is going to be the winner.”

The survey also showed 64 per cent of residents would like to have councillors who can work together in a coalition, while 21 per cent favour independent councillors.

Just five per cent said they prefer councillors who represent a political party.

In an Insights West poll from April, two third or residents (68 per cent) said they are ready for either a significant or small change in their legislators. Only 20 per cent said they’d like to see no change at all.

Canseco said because Surrey First has a firm hold on the council table – 100 per cent before Rasode split earlier this year – people are considering at their choices.

“There’s going to be a lot of movement,” he noted.

Canseco referred to U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 in Indiana, where the campaign mobilized a lot of young voters in a traditionally Republican-voting riding.

The same could – and may – happen in Surrey’s current political environment, he said.

Results of the survey are based on an online study conducted from July 17 to 21 among 507 residents of Surrey, and have been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. Insights West says the poll has a margin or error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.