Mayor Doug McCallum is nothing if not controversial. He was first elected to council in 1993, and elected mayor in 1996 before his defeat in 2005. He ran again in 2018.
McCallum led the Safe Surrey Coalition on two major promises: scrap the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in favor of a Skytrain to Langley, and ditch the RCMP in favour of a new municipal police force — both of which he has made progress on.
I don’t like McCallum for a few reasons.
He tried to ban residents from city council meetings which earned the city a dishonourable mention in the Code of Silence Awards. He wasted taxpayer money on a legal challenge against Uber operating in the city. McCallum refused to allow cannabis stores in the city, and he disregarded the environment with projects like the South Campbell Heights development and the road through Surrey’s Bear Creek Park.
It isn’t 1993 anymore, I don’t want a mayor who seems stuck in the past.
Current Councillor Brenda Locke is a former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and received the most votes than other council candidates in 2018. She was elected as part of McCallum’s slate, but she quit the coalition shortly after the election citing a lack of transparency and co-operation.
Locke created Surrey Connect with fellow Safe Surrey Coalition defector Councillor Jack Hundial and is seeking to unseat McCallum.
Locke’s biggest challenge is going to be explaining to people why they should trust any of her campaign promises after she backed out of her commitment to create a municipal police force and is now strongly pushing to keep the RCMP in Surrey.
But Locke has been on council for the past several years pushing back against McCallum, without compromising her support for projects she does agree with, like the Skytrain to Langley.
She has put the environment at the forefront, fighting against the 84th Avenue connector and the South Campbell Heights plan, and recruited environmental activist Sebastian Sajda to her slate to show the environment is a priority.
Lastly is Jinny Sims, president of the B.C. Teachers Federation, was elected MP with the NDP in 2011, and after being defeated in 2015, ran to be MLA for Surrey-Panorama in 2017 where she was appointed Minister of Citizens Services.
Sims is running with a new slate called Surrey Forward, which doesn’t aim to be an NDP slate, but a progressive slate that shares values regardless of political party.
I don’t fully know how to feel about Sims yet, she has released virtually no policy on even one of the biggest issues in the city like policing or the environment.
However, one of her greatest strengths is she is an excellent public speaker. The speech she gave when she announced she was running had humour, energy, and it didn’t feel like she was reading off a script, something many politicians struggle with.
The ability to communicate will make hearing the policy Sims eventually does release much easier for voters to understand.
It’s also exciting Sims has the youngest person to announce their candidacy on her slate, June Liu.
It would have been nice to see more candidates under 30 and from diverse backgrounds running alongside McCallum, Locke, and Sims. But at least this year we have seemingly better options than last time.