Frank Bucholtz

AND FRANKLY: Get ready for non-stop ‘electioneering’ in Surrey

Byelection and civic election coming so close together brings up wide range of issues

Hard to believe with all the summer weather we have experienced, but it’s back to school, back to work (and to the office for many) and back to non-stop electioneering for the next five weeks.

First is the Surrey South byelection. Set for Saturday, Sept. 10, it comes just one day after the deadline for nominations for councils and school boards in Surrey, White Rock and Delta.

After that deadline, candidate meetings take place, advertising begins in earnest and potential voters start to take a closer look at candidates and their platforms. Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 15.

The Delta campaign has been extremely quiet thus far. The biggest news in White Rock is that the Democracy Direct slate, which won control of council in 2018, has ceased to exist.

In Surrey, there is plenty going on already. The various slates have rolled out platforms and candidates are already talking about a wide variety of issues. Some address longstanding matters of concern; others are completely new.

In the latter category is Safe Surrey Coalition’s pledge to build a 60,000-seat stadium. This was first revealed by incumbent Mayor Doug McCallum as work on the long-delayed Cloverdale arena was officially started on Aug. 24.

The stadium idea quickly drew a lot of attention from media and the public – exactly what it was intended to do.

Whether it is ever built or not, it quickly focused attention on McCallum and his slate of candidates, four of whom are incumbents. It was designed to get a lot of attention, and it did.

Surrey Forward, headed by Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Sims (who is running for mayor) has also outlined a number of ideas. One revolves around getting owners of homes with secondary suites to register their suites, and offering an amnesty and a pledge not to evict tenants. Given the challenge in finding housing, this will likely get some attention.

Surrey-Newton Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal is running for mayor and heading the United Surrey slate. One of its councillor candidates is another former MP, Jasbir Sandhu, who was the NDP MP for Surrey Centre for one term in Ottawa. United Surrey wants to freeze taxes for one year and roll back the parcel tax from $300 to $100.

Former White Rock Mayor Gordie Hogg (who is also a former MP and MLA) is running for Surrey mayor and heading the long-established Surrey First slate, which went from nine seats on council to one in the last election. It is calling for a referendum on the policing transition, and calling for the hiring of many more police officers.

Incumbent Coun. Brenda Locke is the mayoral candidate with Surrey Connect. She is also focusing a lot of her campaign on the Surrey Police, and vows to scrap the transition if elected. However, she adds that she must have the support of a majority of council to do so.

That is a very important point. All of these pledges will prove hollow if there isn’t enough support on council for them. The eight councillors elected are far more important than the successful candidate for mayor, because they control the votes and the direction of council.

It is worthwhile for voters to concentrate on the councillor candidates, and doubly worthwhile not to simply vote for one slate. Councillors from different slates provide some different perspectives. If their first desire is to serve Surrey residents by making well-reasoned decisions, rather than vote as a bloc, Surrey will go in a good direction over the next four years.

Frank Bucholtz writes twice a month for the Peace Arch News.

ColumnElection 2022Surrey