The 2022 municipal elections are almost here. Voting day is next Saturday, Oct. 15.
The level of attention given to the election by most voters thus far is minimal. The October election date sneaks up on people, coming soon after they are back at work and kids are back at school. This election also comes at a time when there is plenty of economic uncertainty.
Nonetheless, many people do plan to vote, so here are a few matters for them to consider.
Much of the focus on the Surrey election has been on the candidates for mayor, with incumbent Mayor Doug McCallum being pilloried by virtually all his rivals. He also has a court date two weeks after the election. It’s important to remember that the mayor is the leader of the council and spokesman for the city, but he (or she) is also just one vote out of nine.
Leadership is important, and it must be given full consideration by voters. One sad aspect of McCallum’s tenure over the past four years was the banning of seven people from council chambers, which was eventually reversed. It was petty and completely unnecessary.
It is also very important to spend some time researching the 56 candidates for the eight council seats, both those who are part of slates, and independents. Each one who is elected also has a vote. If one of the slate candidates for mayor is elected, which is likely, that person won’t get far without a supportive council. A variety of voices reflects the diversity of the city.
McCallum’s four Safe Surrey Coalition incumbents are running again, as are incumbents Linda Annis of Surrey First and independent Steven Pettigrew, who was the first to leave SSC.
McCallum ran and won in 2018 on promises to bring SkyTrain to Surrey, instead of LRT which the previous council had promised. That pledge was quickly fulfilled, and there are very few people in Surrey who do not agree with that switch.
His other big promise was to replace Surrey RCMP with Surrey Police. This is moving ahead, very slowly, and remains highly controversial. The two reasons it has got as far as it has are the unwavering support of the four SSC councillors who did not desert McCallum (three others did); and the backing of the province, notably Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
There are many other issues for Surrey voters to consider. Taxation, recreation facilities, transportation, homelessness and housing are just some of them.
The next council will operate in a very different environment, as the province is almost sure to bring in much more interventionist housing policies which will put a lot of pressure on city halls all across the province.
The White Rock election will be interesting. Democracy Direct, which won five of the seven council seats in 2018, has split apart, and Mayor Darryl Walker is running against two of his former slate mates, Erika Johanson and Scott Kristjanson. This split may benefit the fourth candidate for mayor, Megan Knight, a former councillor.
Only independents are contesting the race for council this year.
In Delta, Mayor George Harvie seems assured of victory and the biggest question is: will all six of his Achieving For Delta candidates be elected. It is the only slate contesting the election, and there are no independent incumbents.
Delta and White Rock voters must consider growth-related issues, and how the provincial response to housing issues will affect their neighbourhoods and their cities.
Do not forget school trustees when voting, either. Races for six school board seats in Surrey and seven in Delta have been ignored, but there are no shortage of education issues. In White Rock, incumbent trustee Laurae McNally has been elected by acclamation to Surrey Board of Education.
Frank Bucholtz writes twice a month for Black Press Media.