SURREY â€” 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 â€œcertainly eyecatching.â€
â€œHereâ€™s someone whoâ€™s been away from politics for some time and heâ€™s still at 83 per cent,â€ he said of McCallum. â€œHeâ€™s certainly going to have an influence on the election.â€
The survey found both mayoral contenders are recognized by most residents 55 and over â€“ 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 McCallumâ€™s idea to bring a ward system to the city (53 per cent of residents called it a â€œvery goodâ€ or â€œgoodâ€ idea), but not with Hepnerâ€™s idea of constructing a ferris wheel near the Pattullo Bridge (72 per cent of those surveyed deemed the idea â€œbadâ€ or â€œvery badâ€).
Canseco said itâ€™s too early for to ask residents a â€œhead-to-head voting intention question,â€ as more candidates are expected to launch their campaigns.
â€œWe 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,â€ he said.
The poll found that of those familiar with McCallum, 40 per cent said they are â€œvery likelyâ€ or â€œmoderately likelyâ€ to vote for him in the upcoming election.
When it comes to Hepner, 37 per cent of those familiar with her said they are â€œvery likelyâ€ or â€œmoderately likelyâ€ to support her come November.
Canseco said Coun. Barinder Rasode wasnâ€™t included in the poll because she hasnâ€™t officially declared her intentions to run for mayor.
â€œIf Rasode announces soon, youâ€™re going to have three very credible people,â€ he stated, adding that it could end up being a very close race.
And according to Canseco, â€œthereâ€™s a lot to be said about the (campaign) teams theyâ€™re assembling.â€
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 itâ€™s rare for a municipal issue to be at more than 40 per cent.
â€œThereâ€™s still a lot of people who are uneasy on this. I think whoever connects better on crime is going to be the winner.â€
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 theyâ€™d like to see no change at all.
Canseco said because Surrey First has a firm hold on the council table â€“ 100 per cent before Rasode split earlier this year â€“ people are considering at their choices.
â€œThereâ€™s going to be a lot of movement,â€ he noted.
Canseco referred to U.S. President Barack Obamaâ€™s campaign in 2008 in Indiana, where the campaign mobilized a lot of young voters in a traditionally Republican-voting riding.
The same could â€“ and may – happen in Surreyâ€™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.