As the Leader first reported last week, former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum will announce Monday that he’s once again running for the centre chair.
The Leader reported on June 27 the South Surrey resident, who was ousted by Mayor Dianne Watts in 2005, was considering coming back for a run at the centre chair this November.
McCallum’s campaign manager, Al Payne, confirmed Friday that McCallum will be formally announcing his mayoral bid on Monday, July 7.
Payne said he believed McCallum had been considering the run for mayor for some time, but had just decided that he will in recent days.
“It’s been many months contemplation, but I think he’s kind of come to the decision in recent weeks,” Payne told The Leader. “His decision-making process has been relatively recent.”
Communications Manager Jonathan Ross said he felt the three top issues for McCallum will be crime, finances and transportation.
Ross said it will be an incredible race for mayor.
“I think Surrey is going to be the most interesting municipality by a landslide,” Ross said.
McCallum is one of three big names looking to run this city for the next four years, joining Surrey First’s Coun. Linda Hepner and independent Coun. Barinder Rasode.
He said in an interview with the Leader on June 27 he believes far too much money was wasted moving the city hall from Newton to Whalley, and thinks a much tighter reign on city finances is in order.
He believes the first issue that need to be tackled is crime.
“We have to address public safety end of it,” McCallum said. “I think it’s just a matter of sitting down and working with the RCMP and saying we want to see a lot more proactive and preventive type of policing and police officers on the streets. If that means more hiring more staff to hire their administrative duties, then we need to do that.”
He said council’s promise of 95 police officers over the next five years is fine, but that number should come in over the next two years.
McCallum wants to double the civic funding for Surrey Crime Prevention Society to bolster the presence of that public safety element.
He wants to see a much more proactive approach to crime reduction.
“Right now the police are a lot more reactive than investigative,” McCallum said. “Crime happens and they spend a lot of the time in the office writing it up. If we can get out in front of the crime, then you won’t have that.”
The second most pressing issue, he says, is transportation.
He said when he was chair of TransLink, the transportation authority “built a huge amount of transportation.”
It included the “largest order in the world of trolley buses,” and highway buses.
“We also built the Golden Ears Bridge and we built the Canada Line,” McCallum said.
McCallum said the current council has fallen short on its lobbying efforts to senior levels of government.
“You’ve got to talk to them every day, or every week,” McCallum said. “There’s windows of opportunity, and right now, federally, with an election next year, there’s a huge window of opportunity and we should be contacting Ottawa every week.”
He said development in this city has grown stagnant.
“In Newton… I guess I’m dismayed,” he said. “When we were involved, we were really looking at building that town centre and putting in a lot of recreation and community centres in behind the pool.”
He said he could boil down his concerns about Surrey into three topics: “Safe, clean and active.”
“I think we need to really, really get going on building in Newton and complete that recreation town hall concept in Newton.”
That work would have to start immediately.
“There’s been too much planning, too much talking, too much trips overseas, and consulting, and a ton of reports,” McCallum said. “I think it’s time to make decisions and get on with it.”
McCallum brings with him name recognition and experience. A fiscal conservative, McCallum has many members of the community who supported the job he did as mayor from 1996 to 2005.
However, he was ousted amid much controversy in 2005.
The most prominent issue was the time he constricted the scope of a sexual harassment investigation into one ofof his senior managers – first reported in The Leader in July 2005.
Despite the controversy, voters have short memories.
If McCallum and his supporters can play up his fiscal record (which included a 10-year freeze on taxes), the rest may be dismissed when it comes time to go to the polls.
The election will be held Nov. 15.