Surrey First commissioned a poll that shows Linda Hepner leading the mayoral pack.

Phone poll puts Surrey mayoral hopeful Hepner in the lead

Pollster tells The Leader the inclusion of outgoing Mayor Watts in the survey does not make it a push poll.

A new poll released this week has Surrey First mayoral candidate Linda Hepner in the lead, with 40 per cent of decided voters saying they would cast a ballot for her.

The poll, commissioned by Surrey First and conducted by Vancouver’s Innovative Research Group, tallied the opinions of 300 people by phone between Oct. 6 and 12.

It showed that the top issue is crime at 36 per cent, followed by keeping property taxes down (16 per cent). Both open and honest government and attracting jobs came in third at 11 per cent.

Reducing wasteful spending at city hall was the biggest issue for 10 per cent of those polled, reducing traffic congestion was at eight per cent and improving services for seniors came in at five per cent.

The poll showed Hepner leads the mayor’s race with decided support at 40 per cent, followed by former mayor Doug McCallum at 33 per cent and Barinder Rasode at 22 per cent.

The poll has McCallum and Hepner at inverse positions compared to an online poll released last week by Insights West.

The new poll also shows 73 per cent of those asked believe the city is better now than it was nine years ago before Dianne Watts became mayor.

Mayoral candidate Rasode says the inclusion of Watts and her record, both which were popular, makes the survey a bit of a push poll.

A push poll is where people are asked leading questions that favour their party or candidate before asking the candidate.

In those instances, responses will be more favourable of the aligned candidate.

However, Innovative Research Group says there’s nothing in this poll to push respondents one way or the other.

Watts’ popularity was polled, says pollster Greg Lyle, but there’s no indication of her ties to Hepner.

“You would have to know that Dianne Watts and Linda Hepner are part of the same party for you to have been reminded that you like Dianne Watts and then decide that’s going to make you more likely to vote for Linda Hepner,” Lyle said Monday. “And frankly, if you’re smart enough to do that, you would have done that anyhow.”

Watts’ numbers were off the charts in this poll, with 75 per cent favouring her job performance.

Lyle said then high popularity is rare. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi shares similar popularity numbers, but very few others.

“(Saskatchewan Premier) Brad Wall on a good day might get near that,” Lyle said. “So, really here and Nenshi and that’s about it… It’s remarkable.”

The poll, which only included one person per household, is accurate to plus or minus 5.7 per cent.

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