SURREY — Mayor Linda Hepner teared up as she was unexpectedly recognized for 30 years of civic service to the City of Surrey during a city council meeting Monday night.
City manager Vincent Lalonde put in a special request to do so at the top of the meeting.
Hepner received applause as Lalonde announced the mayor has recently reached a “significant milestone” in serving the city for 30 years through her work both an elected official and as city staff.
“Thank you for embarrassing me so early in the new year,” said Hepner with a smile.
Donna Jones, who Hepner mentored, spoke during the mayor’s recognition.
“It’s my pleasure to be here to celebrate this career milestone of 30 years of combined service,” said Donna. “Surrey is very fortunate to have a mayor with a deep understanding of both sides of the world of civic government.”
This experience, said Jones, gives Hepner the insight to “draw information and inspiration” from both sides in her work as mayor.
Hepner was first hired to the city as then-city manager Mike Jones’ executive assistant.
“When Linda Hepner came into the office it was clear that she had this tremendous drive and this intelligence like I had never witnessed before,” said Donna, pointing out she also had “Maritime warmth, wit and humour.”
Hepner would go on to hold several titles, including business development officer, manager of corporate administration and manager of economic development.
Then, in 2005, she was elected to city council and became Surrey’s mayor in 2014.
“Quite a journey indeed,” remarked Jones.
Former city manager Mike Jones – the man who hired Hepner – wrote a letter that Donna read to all at the meeting.
“Back then I knew you were good, but I did not know you would blossom into Wonder Woman,” said Mike, praising Hepner for her “outstanding” performance in all the roles she’s held.
“Now as mayor you have the leading political role with great influence in the present and for the future,” said Mike.
“I know that you will excel.”
Lalonde presented Hepner with a framed copy of Mike’s letter.
“That was a very emotional speech, Donna, that has kind of taken me aback,” said Hepner as she teared up. “My greatest of respect to the person who hired me and began this journey.”