Laurie Guerra, councillor-elect, received the third most votes for the Oct. 20 election. (Submitted photo: Laurie Guerra)

Surrey city council

Advocacy work leads to federal, municipal politics

Laurie Guerra received the third most votes for a councillor on Oct. 20

This story is the third in a series on Surrey’s eight councillors-elect.

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Laurie Guerra almost didn’t run in the 2018 civic election.

“Literally, I think the day before the very last day was when I signed up to join the Safe Surrey Coalition team,” Guerra told the Now-Leader.

RELATED: Laurie Guerra to run with Safe Surrey Coalition again

Guerra garnered the third most votes in the Oct. 20 municipal election with 33,955 votes.

Just before that, Guerra was actually in the running for the Fleetwood-Port Kells nomination for the Conservative Party of Canada.

However, while she was running for the Fleetwood-Port Kells nomination, Guerra said mayor-elect Doug McCallum asked her to join Safe Surrey Coalition “because they had their seven people but they wanted me as their eighth person.”

Guerra ran with Safe Surrey Coalition in the 2014 civic election, and according to her website, she received 18,500 votes.

Guerra said she felt “blessed” McCallum would consider her for the party again, but said she decided to continue running for the Conservative nomination.

When the numbers for the nomination bid came out in the end, Guerra said she realized “the membership numbers weren’t in my favour.” She said she had about two days after the nomination didn’t work out to decide if she would run again with Safe Surrey.

Guerra said politics is kind of a “natural fit” for her.

“I didn’t start out to be a politician, but I thought to myself, ‘Of course I could do this.’”

Guerra said she’s been involved in politics for nearly a decade, but her advocacy work started about 18 years ago.

Her first son, Guerra said, was diagnosed with autism when he was five years old.

“That changes who you are as a parent, and I found that autism was treatable and I researched that treatment.”

Guerra’s son is now 23 and is studying at Simon Fraser University, adding he will graduate with a degree is mechatronics systems and engineering next summer.

“He’s reached what’s known as best outcome from that science-based treatment. They call it indistinguishable from his peers,” she said.

“That’s why I have been an advocate for science-based treatment for autism for the last at least 18 years. I would advocate to every government official about this autism treatment.” But she said she “kept getting the runaround.”

Guerra has been a director with Autism BC for several years, and it’s because of that advocacy work with Autism BC that she became involved in politics.

“I just thought to myself, well, if these politicians can’t do anything, maybe they should get the heck out of the road and get somebody in there that can do something.”

Guerra said she “is always going to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.”

“That’s one thing I will bring in my work (to city council).”

In her role as a councillor, Guerra said she will be looking into a model for the public consultation process which she said was part of Safe Surrey’s campaign promises. She said she wanted to take the lead on that project and has been doing a bit of research.

Guerra said while campaigning, she “noticed from talking with so many people” that they “didn’t feel heard” by city council. “They really didn’t feel like the city was listening to them, and (the city) really wasn’t listening to them.”

Going forward, Guerra said her top priorities are “coming up with real pragmatic solutions in solving what the needs of the communities are.”

Her other interests, Guerra said, include parks, recreation and culture and working with the school board.

“We were talking with mayor-elect McCallum and he was saying the school trustees don’t have much of a co-ordinated process or consultation with the city councillors lately,” said Guerra, adding council was to “up the game.”

Guerra lives in the Fleetwood-Tynehead area in a blended family with two sons from Guerra’s previous marriage and three daughters from her husband’s previous relationship.

Guerra said she and her husband were high school sweethearts and “rekindled” at their 25-year high school reunion.

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