Two Surrey Civic Coalition (SCC) members on the Surrey Board of Education have quit the party to join a coalition of trustees, which will now consist of members from a broad political spectrum.
SCC members Laurie Larsen and Terry Allen quit the left-leaning slate Wednesday to join with free-enterprise members of the board and form a coalition called Surrey First Education.
The name and the concept are extremely similar to Mayor Dianne Watts’ Surrey First team, which is made up of labour members – such as Barinder Rasode and Judy Villeneuve – as well as a host of centre and right-leaning members.
Larsen, also the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 402 (which represents City of Surrey workers), said the decision was difficult at first.
However, the more she thought of it, the more it felt right.
She remembers expecting partisan battles when first elected under the SCC banner in November 2008.
But that didn’t happen.
She found some of the trustees who leaned to a different side of the political spectrum were extremely helpful.
“We just came together and decided we really do work well together,” Larsen said Wednesday. “Terry (Allen) and I decided we really needed not to have a party influence on how we made decisions.”
Larsen said while there wasn’t politics in the boardroom, it still occurred at the executive level.
Sometimes, she said, the party indicates what “they feel you should or shouldn’t be saying, and we’d just rather be free thinking.”
Larsen and Allen join Trustees Shawn Wilson, Reni Masi and Pam Glass.
Wilson said the idea emphasizes what already occurs at the school board table.
“There’s no backstabbing and knife-wielding at our board meetings,” Wilson said.
SCC Trustee Ijaz Chatha was invited to join the group but declined.
Surrey Board of Eduation chairperson Laurae McNally will remain an independent representing White Rock.
The SCC is now reduced to Chatha on the board of education and Coun. Bob Bose on Surrey city council.
SCC president Stephanie Ryan called the departures a “betrayal of values” held within the party.
She said the two have now joined the “other side” which hasn’t done anything for the abundance of portables in Surrey or pressuring the province for more funding.
“We think it’s a mistake for them to join a team that hasn’t gotten anything done for education in Surrey,” Ryan said.