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Surrey mayor not being wooed by federal Conservatives, riding president says

Riding president says Watts not being floated by Conservatives for South Surrey-White Rock. - File
Riding president says Watts not being floated by Conservatives for South Surrey-White Rock.
— image credit: File

Despite rumours to the contrary, a riding president says Mayor Dianne Watts is not being courted by the Conservatives for a federal run with the Tories in South Surrey-White Rock.

Electoral District Association (EDA) President Jerry Presley told The Leader Thursday he would love to have Watts on board, but there's been no discussion about it at the local riding level.

"Dianne Watts? You've got to be kidding," Presley said. "If we could dream…

"I haven't heard yet, and normally I'd be the first," he said.

He said even if discussions were happening at a higher level, he would be informed.

"They still work through the riding association," Presley said. "The party just doesn't appoint candidates."

Speculation arose after it was learned Steve Casson, Watts' former political financial agent, was on the executive of the Conservative EDA for South Surrey-White Rock.

But Presley says nothing should be read into that.

"He's worked with me in the past with riding matters, and he's a good fundraiser," Presley said.

Presley said Watts hasn't approached him regarding a run in the riding.

"If I knew there was any kind of a chance, I'd be pounding on her door," Presley said.

A federal Liberal strategist also said Watts was not being considered at this point.

Rumours of Watts' possible departure gathered steam after The Leader learned Coun. Linda Hepner was gauging community support for her as mayor, should Watts decide not to run this November.

Watts said she knew Hepner was checking the pulse of the community about a mayoral run and was not bothered by the prospect.

Asked if she would be running for mayor, Watts was noncommittal.

"At this point in time, I'm concentrating on being mayor of the city. Period," Watts said.

Other Surrey councillors are also considering a run for mayor, should Watts move on to another political arena.

Although she denies it, Coun. Barinder Rasode is widely rumoured to be considering a mayoral run.

Coun. Tom Gill said he may consider it, as did Coun. Bruce Hayne.

Coun. Judy Villeneuve said she hasn't thought of it, while Coun. Barbara Steele said probably not and Coun. Mary Martin said "no."

Outside the council arena, Surrey-Whalley MLA Bruce Ralston is rumoured to have considered running. Ralston would only say he's been approached to run.

"There's a lot of turmoil on the civic scene at the moment," Ralston said, adding he hasn't gotten to the point of considering it.

The civic election is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 15, however, many observers say the campaign is already in full bloom.

@diakiw

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