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Surrey First fires back
A Surrey First councillor, and potential mayoral candidate, is countering claims made by Coun. Barinder Rasode, who is leaving the ruling civic party.
Rasode told The Leader Wednesday she felt stifled by the Surrey First "coalition of independents" and said she had no choice but to leave the slate and run as an independent.
Surrey First held every seat on council until Rasode's departure.
Speaking on behalf of Surrey First, Coun. Linda Hepner said Rasode's opinions were always respected, both in team meetings and at the council table.
"She has had every opportunity to speak around any issue," Hepner said Thursday
Rasode told The Leader she was most concerned about issues of public safety, the spending of taxpayers' dollars, public engagement and transparency.
"Many of the things she's talking about have never come to the council table… those issues simply have not been raised," Hepner said.
Rasode did raise the issue of transparency when she asked to have city councillors' expenses posted on the Internet.
"The next day, we're done," Hepner said. "So her ideas have always been considered."
Hepner thinks Rasode's departure has more to do with a run for the mayor's chair than anything else.
"I think this is more about ambition than it is about reality," Hepner said.
Both Hepner and Rasode have said they would be interested in the mayor's job if Dianne Watts chooses not to run in November's municipal election.
As for her prospects against Rasode, Hepner would only say she wishes Rasode the best of luck.
"I have great respect for Barinder, I just don't think she works well in a team environment," Hepner said. "I don't know how you govern a city without being collaborative in a team environment."
Mayor Dianne Watts sent out a press release Thursday stating she was not going to get into "electioneering."
"There is a significant amount of work we are undertaking to move the City of Surrey forward and this continues to remain my top priority."