SURREY – Battle for second largest British Columbia municipal government seats, including the most important Mayoral, will get major boost starting from today. Over next several weeks Mayoral and Councillor candidates will faced themselves in several different battles for popularity and votes, all of them will try to attract new voters especially younger population, those battles will include face to face debates, media interviews featuring one or more candidates and wide spread social media world. First interviews including very good one in Surrey North Delta Leader by Kevin Diakiw already sparkled great debate on several issues especially on new City Hall situated in Central City area, which should become downtown Surrey core, following issues of accountability, transparency and relations with provincial and federal governments. Debate circle will be opened tonight at Surrey Centre Library featuring all Mayoral and Councillor candidates spreading through next few weeks of November closing it with same debate on November 15th just couple of days before Surrey citizens cast their ballots on November 19th.

Surrey Centre Library will host first Mayoral and Councillor Candidates debate (Photo: E.Milavic)

Debates

According to latest schedule posted on The City of Surrey web site first big face to face debate will be held tonight from 7 to 9 PM at newly opened Surrey Centre Library, and it is organized by Surrey Housing and Homelessness Task Force. Mayoral candidates including incumbent Mayor Dianne Watts, Surrey First leader, will have some time off to prepare themselves for next debate while their colleagues runners for Councillor seats face themselves for second time on November 5th from 1:30 to 4:30 PM at Newton Library in organization of Surrey CiTI (Citizens Transportation Initiative). Judging by organizers first two debates beside a general issues regarding City functioning and policies will be concentrated on important issues of homelessness and transportation. Without any doubt candidates will have a lot of to say regarding these issues and will be faced with many questions.

Very active Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association will organize second all candidates debate, Mayoral and Councillor, on November 8th at Compass Point Inn Hotel on King George Boulevard from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Business as one of the most important factors in Surrey galloping development, importance for next generations and approaches to different options how to generate more revenue and attract new investments should take a central place at this debate. Nonetheless latest information’s from social media, especially Twitter, significant number of candidates still needs to confirm their attendance on this debate, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be there and ready for political fight in the best manners. Following day same faces will gather again but this time on Kwantlen Polytechnic University in organization of Kwantlen Political Science Society from 5 to 7 PM.

Last three debates before “D-Day” will be held from Novemeber 13-15. Councillor candidates will gather for their debate on November 13th at Flweetwood Library, this will be second debate organized by CiTI. Candidates will have 2,5 hours to discuss all issues (1:30-4:30 PM). Councillor candidates will be joined by Mayoral on November 14th (6:30-8:30 PM) and November 15th (6-8 PM). South Surrey Residents Association is organizer of November 14th debates which will take a place at Surrey Rotary Field, while last debate on November 15th will take a place at Eaglequest Golf Course, Candidates will be gathered under the organization of Surrey Board of Trade.

For debates details and my commentary on all discussed issues please follow my Twitter account @EsmirMilavic and expect detailed posts here at the blog.

Social Media 

Surrey’s main political forces gathered around Surrey First and Surrey Civic Coalition acknowledged importance of Social Media on the road to election victory with significant involvement, preparations and strategical approach to it. Twitter, Facebook, Web sites and smartphone applications captured attention of our politicians in effort to attract as many as possible new voters. This segment of campaign replaced many well used and proven strategies and practices of campaigning process giving them and voters much faster and easier way of communication to each other, starting new debating channels. Social Media in Surrey’s case will play enormous role because 1/3 of overall population is under age of 19, large percentage of them are eligible voters on November 19th.

Surrey First web site

According to available data from Twitter, Surrey First is in advantage with several very active members including Mayor Dianne Watts, Councillors Barinder Rasode, Linda Hepner and Judy Villenueve. Their Twitter leader is Councillor Barinder Rasode with more than 1300 follows, and 1600+ followed by her, adding to that more than 1800 tweets, her closest followers are Mayor Watts (900+ tweets) and Cllr. Hepner (300+ tweets). Their only Cllr. without any tweets is Tom Gill, but why not to expect we’ll see some of his tweets later this month. On the other side on Facebook Mayor Watts leads Surrey First with almost 5000 friends, followed by Cllr. Rasode, Hunt, Steele and Hepner. Surrey First Facebook page is liked by 500+ people what represents significant online community, this community is build through active updates and interesting posts regarding members activities on daily basis, well documented with photo material. Recently Surrey First presented to public iPhone/Android application in effort to able all interested citizens to obtain latest information’s, reach candidates and what’s one of the most important elements of every campaign to donate their cause ahead of upcoming elections. SF’s web presentation is simple but functional, with solid information’s flow.

Surrey Civic Coalition web site

Surrey Civic Coalition is not underrepresented on social media, nevertheless there’s huge space for improvement and additional work on their presentation if they think to attract new, especially younger voters mainly orientated to technological advancements or gadgets. On Twitter their strongest representative is Stephanie Ryan with little bit over 1000 tweets, followed by Rina Kaur Gill and Grant Rice both with 100+ tweets, other candidates on present on this social network are under 100 tweets so far. Three SCC candidates veteran Bob Bose, Grant Rice and  Steve Wood, as far as I know, are not present on Twitter up to this moment.

Quite few of them is present on Facebook again with Ryan as a leader with largest number of friends (1400+), followed by Gary Robinson, Wood and Doug Elford. When it comes to activity Candidate Robinson is the most active SCC representative followed by Wood and Elford. Thirty or so people likes their extremely inactive Facebook page on which you can find less than 10 posts, of that only two of them are created by candidates. Web presentation which represents them on World Wide Web maybe is filled with solid information’s regarding agenda and candidates biographical data with solid design very easy to use.