So let it be written…
Okay. On the face of it, it’s clearly an unfair political advantage to have the outgoing mayor deliver her annual State of the City address exactly one month before a civic election in which her slate is actively campaigning to maintain control.
I mean, you can’t buy that kind of political advertising, not to mention all the related media coverage.
It’s a platform entirely unavailable to her slate’s political rivals.
But to her credit, Mayor Linda Hepner did not exploit this advantage on Wednesday afternoon, in her wistful look back at 33 years in public service as she delivered her political swansong, or eulogy, however you want to characterize it.
The outgoing mayor could have seized the occasion to launch into a hyper-partisan Yay Surrey First speech on behalf of colleagues who are still in the game, but she did not. Instead, she wisely recounted the big picture, as she sees it, of more than three decades of significant change in Surrey during her lengthy and varied career at city hall.
Hepner had to be alive to the fact she’d be called out on it if she ventured into vainglorious partisan stumping, as witnessed by a passage in her written speech that put it on the table: “And I’m going to ask you to pardon me for a minute or two as I get political…not in a particularly partisan way…but in a way that show that when it’s done right, politics can do a lot for a city.”
Well, what’s she going to say? I goofed? Of course when anyone is saying goodbye, they will focus on their achievements. It’s in our blood, that is, if we’re not into self-loathing.
Notably, while introducing councillor Tom Gill as Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Hepner also introduced council Bruce Hayne as a mayoral candidate but did not mention his slate, Surrey Integity Now. But this is a trifle.
Absent were digs, pitches, slights or obvious cynical omissions. Machiavelli would have been disappointed with her.
Hepner delivered her fourth and final State of the City address at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel.
She was scheduled to do so on May 24, but as fate had it the event was cancelled on account of a hotel workers strike which would last for four weeks, ending on May 28th.
I do wonder why Hepner’s address was rescheduled to Sept. 19, bypassing June, July and August, and so close to the civic election.
Still, she didn’t take what had to be tempting bait to exploit the political advantage handed to her in the form of this later-day address, and for that, Mayor Hepner, I tip my hat to you.
So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now-Leader. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org