A civic political party that hopes to defeat Surrey First’s firm hold on council seats this fall says there was a larger than anticipated turnout at its first community meeting.
“It was really good, we had up to 60 people and the room was full,” Doug Elford, Surrey Community Alliance president, told the Now-Leader.
Elford said he expected about 40 people to attend the party’s first political event, but a “surprising and diverse” amount of people turned out to the Tuesday night meeting, held at City Centre Library.
According to Elford, a “dissatisfaction with the current council” was a common thread amongst attendees.
“People feel there is definitely a need for change. They feel that eight years as a one-party system is not working to the satisfaction of neighbourhoods,” he added. “They want community minded people on council that are going to listen to the people of Surrey and not large business. Whether that’s the perception, that’s what people are saying — Surrey deserves better.”
It’s not yet clear if SCA will produce a mayoral candidate, but Elford said some people are pushing him to run.
“It’s something I’ll have to decide in the very near future,” he said.
SCA is set to hold nomination meetings in mid-May, and a slate will be announced then, according to Elford.
“We’re looking for candidates who have a record of contribution to the community,” he said, “who have sacrificed at their expense to help the community”
According to Elford, crime is going to be a hot topic during the election campaign, as is the norm in Surrey.
But he expected transportation to be “first and foremost.”
“It’s tough to get around Surrey, anywhere,” said Elford. “The LRT is going to be contentious.”
Housing affordability will be another big issue, Elford predicted.
“I have a son that’s had to move back to my place, he’s been rent-evicted,” he said. “And my boy has a good job but that minimum level seems to be climbing. How we address the housing crisis is going to be critical. There’s a level of desperation out there.”
While Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner has announced her intentions to seek re-election, a Surrey First slate has not yet been announced.
Another new party has also materialized to challenge the ruling party, calling themselves People First Surrey. They, too, have not yet released a slate of candidates.
The Surrey civic election is on Oct. 20.