Frank Bucholtz

AND FRANKLY: As many questions as candidates in Surrey municipal race

‘Best thing to do at this point is simply ask them’

The shape of the mayor’s race in Surrey is now pretty clear. There are five major candidates running in the October election, with several other lesser-known ones expected to file as well.

Each of those five candidates is heading a political slate. If each slate runs a full slate of eight candidates for councillor, that will mean 40 candidates from major slates alone. It is realistic to expect there will be over 50 names on the ballot for councillor – there were 48 in 2018.

One important aspect of the race was summed up neatly by Justin McElroy of CBC in a tweet. He quoted the oft-heard phrase: “Surrey is the city of the future and of the city of youth!” And followed it up with “Average age of the five Surrey mayoral candidates: 70.6.”

The race now features incumbent Doug McCallum of the Safe Surrey Coalition, along with the four councillors who have stuck with him through thick and thin – Allison Patton, Laurie Guerra, Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra. One who didn’t, Brenda Locke, is running for mayor with the Surrey Connect slate, which also includes incumbent councillor Jack Hundial.

Surrey-Panorama NDP MLA Jinny Sims is running for mayor with the Surrey Forward slate. Surrey-Newton Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal is running for mayor with the United Surrey slate.

The most recent entrant into the mayor’s race is former South Surrey-White Rock Liberal MP, Surrey-White Rock MLA, and White Rock mayor and councillor Gordie Hogg.

He is heading up the once-dominant Surrey First slate that was put together by Dianne Watts in her early days as mayor. It fell on hard times in 2018, going from having all nine members of council to just one – newcomer Linda Annis. She is part of the slate again this year.

Missing from all of the slates is incumbent Stephen Pettigrew, who was elected as part of McCallum’s slate but was the first councillor to leave it. He has had some health concerns and has not announced if he is running again.

There are so many questions about this race, and the best thing to do at this point is simply ask them.

First, why are so many federal and provincial politicians, past and present, wanting to be on Surrey council? Will any of them collect pensions from their former political positions while serving on council?

Why is Gordie Hogg, a White Rock resident, running for mayor of Surrey? He points out to Black Press Media’s Tom Zytaruk that “I did not leave Surrey, Surrey left me,” as he has lived in White Rock his whole life, and was a boy when it became independent of Surrey, back in 1957.

Is he going to address the issue of White Rock rejoining Surrey as part of his campaign? If so, how will White Rock residents and politicians react to that idea?

How will the policing issue affect the campaign? It is definitely the most divisive issue. Three of the five candidates aren’t ready to reopen the policing debate, but Hogg and Locke are, to various degrees.

Should candidates for mayor and councillor live in Surrey? Hogg doesn’t, but he’s not the only one. There are two council candidates, so far, who do not live in Surrey, reported the Now-Leader. Becky Zhou of United Surrey is a former Surrey resident, but now lives in White Rock. Philip Aguirre, well-known in the Newton business community, is running with Surrey Forward and lives in Vancouver.

After the 2018 election, it came out that Patton and Nagra did not live in Surrey. Both of them now do.

And finally, how are voters supposed to figure out who to vote for when faced with such massive ballots. Isn’t it time to seriously consider a ward system, so that voters in each area of Surrey have a manageable number of councillor candidates to consider?

Frank Bucholtz writes twice a month for Peace Arch News.

Columnmunicipal politicsSurrey