Surrey First’s mayoral candidate and current Councillor Tom Gill announced his full slate of eight council candidates Wednesday at Holland Park, surrounded by well over 100 supporters.
With his “fresh team” that brings a “unique perspective,” Gill said he’s “inviting voters to imagine our city with the changes we want, and the experience to get it done.”
Two-thirds of the slate are new to the team, after several Surrey First team members either split (Bruce Hayne, Dave Woods and Barbara Steele) or retired (Mayor Linda Hepner, Mary Martin and Judy Villeneuve) earlier this year.
Incumbent Surrey First councillors Vera LeFranc and Mike Starchuk are running with the team again.
New Surrey First council candidates are South Surrey resident Linda Annis (executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers), Fleetwood resident Paul Hillsdon (who works with TransLink as the South of the Fraser Rapid Transit Project Planner and as a planner on the Surrey LRT project), Narima Dela Cruz (a community advocate in City Centre), Trevor Halford (public affairs director with Trans Canada Corporation), Upkar Tatlay (managing director of Oxus Nexus, which oversees emerging technologies in the biotech and clean teach industries), and Cloverdale resident Raminder Thomas (executive director of Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce and member of Surrey’s Heritage Services Advisory Board).
— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) September 5, 2018
“This is a group of very talented and committed Surrey residents,” said Gill in a release. “They’re your neighbours, women and men who are ready, willing and able to go to work for you and your family. Surrey First has always put forward strong teams, and this group is no exception. Our team is all about imagining the change we want and having the experience to get it done.”
LeFranc, a one-term councillor, has worked on the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society, the city’s Social Innovation Summit, as well as the city’s finance committee.
Starchuk, also first elected in 2014, retired as Surrey’s Chief Fire Prevention Officer that same year. He serves as chair of both the city’s agriculture and environmental committees, and is a member of the diversity and seniors committees.
He’s also a founding member of the Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society.
In addition to leading Crime Stoppers, Annis chairs the Zajac Ranch for Children, vice-chairs Osteoporosis Canada and is a member of the board of Semiahmoo House. Further, she volunteers with Peace Arch Hospital and is a member of Kwantlen’s criminology curriculum advisory committee.
For her part, Narima is a court and medical interpreter, a realtor and long-time community advocate and volunteer.
She is also a founding director and president of the Surrey Philippine Independence Day Society, and volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, Surrey Food Bank and BC Transplant Society.
Narima’s son, Daryl Dela Cruz, heads the SkyTrain for Surrey group which is adamantly opposed to Surrey’s light rail project — a project which is supported by Surrey First’s leader Tom Gill.
“He knows, of course. I told him. It’s a mixed emotion, I guess, but he loves me,” she said of telling her son she was running as a Surrey First candidate.
“He looks up to me. The reason why I think he’s very much involved and engaged is because he looks up to me,” Narima said, adding that she wanted to run to give back to the community and help better represent the immigrant community on council.
Daryl told the Now-Leader Wednesday that his mother running with Surrey First “will not change or affect our campaign discourse” in opposition to LRT.
Hillsdon — who ran unsuccessfully for Surrey council in 2008 when he was in high school, and for school board in 2011 — is a graduate of both UBC and SFU and grew up in Newton.
“He is a strong advocate for sustainable development and was a founding member of the Surrey Leadership Youth Council and CampOUT!, B.C.’s only leadership retreat for LGBTQ youth,” notes a Surrey First release.
Hillsdon is also a longtime advocate for LRT.
Halford, who is born and raised in Surrey, graduated from Elgin Park and earned a political science degree at Trinity Western.
Today he serves as a youth soccer coach and “an advocate for young Surrey families.”
Tatlay, a former firefighter, serves as executor of Opus Prep Foundation, a youth outreach and mentoring organization.
“We’ve got another talented Surrey First team, a fresh team ready to imagine Surrey’s future with new ideas and perspectives, a team that’s ready to work alongside Surrey residents to help write the next chapter in our city’s story,” said mayoral candidate Gill in a release.
“Our 2018 team is a terrific reflection of our community, with its incredible diversity of ideas and cultures,” he added. “We’re a team of thoughtful, independent voices, but, when it comes to putting Surrey first, we come together and speak as one. That’s what has made Surrey First so effective and why other cities have come up with their own local versions of our approach. We all know what happens when we have a divided and dysfunctional council, because nothing gets done.”
Gill, an accountant and former chief financial officer with Coast Mental Health, said that Surrey “has accomplished a lot in a few short years. But, there’s more to do, and it starts by imagining the kind of city we want for our families and community. All of us at Surrey First are ready to roll up our sleeves to move our city forward and keep it a great place for families.”
Gill noted in a release that he and his wife Pav raised their three children in Surrey and said he “wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
“I’m excited about our future because I can imagine what that looks like when it comes to transit, public safety, smart development, and new jobs that let people work and live right here in Surrey. People like what they see here, which is why we’re attracting 300 new families every month.” said Gill.
Both Dianne Watts and Linda Hepner were “incredible mentors,” said Gill, adding “they taught me a lot about the importance of imagining what the future could look like, then building strong teams to get it done. That’s always been at the heart of Surrey First, attracting a progressive team from the left, right and centre, then working together to put our city first.”
Gill said this election is all about “imagining the future,” and that his team will detail their platform in the weeks ahead.
“We’ll roll things out over the next few weeks,” said Gill. “But, our emphasis is going to be on more LRT to more neighbourhoods, more police officers and a referendum on a city police force, a handgun ban, more businesses and local jobs, more parks, pools and rinks, a new world class performing arts centre, smart development that provides a variety of housing options, and keeping city hall’s financial house in order.”
Gill said keeping taxes low is also top of mind for him, and something he’ll bring to the mayor’s chair.
“I want our city to have a strong balance sheet, so we can continue to make investments in the things that matter to our citizens, including parks, pools, ice rinks, and community centres. I’m very proud of our city’s finances and fiscal record, and I’m committed to keeping it that way,” he added.
Mayor Linda Hepner attended the slate announcement event and said it was “bittersweet” watching from the sidelines, after so many years.
“But it’s time,” she added, noting she was “impressed” with Gill’s team selection — something she wasn’t party to.
“He did a great job, he has the imagination and he has the depth of experience,” Hepner said.
Other slates in the upcoming election include mayoral candidate and incumbent councillor Bruce Hayne’s Integrity Now team, the “non-traditional” People First Surrey, the “left-leaning” Proudly Surrey, and former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition.
The Surrey Community Alliance party seems to have been dissolved after founder Doug Elford split to run with McCallum. Council candidates on that slate (Asad Syed, Saira Aujla, Bernie Sheppard and Imtiaz Popat) are considered independents for the time being.
Surrey voters head to the polls on Oct. 20.