One of the most interesting debates in ongoing election campaign happened just days ago on Shaw TV where four out of seven Surrey mayoral candidates had a chance to exchange views on the future of the city. This was very passionate, well prepared and quite interesting debate between those who are seeking support from Surrey voters on November 15th.
Elements of this debate showed to us that one candidate in particular, Linda Hepner, is not ready for discussion nor has respect for her opponents while two other frontrunners, McCallum and Rasode, tried to be polite and respective as much as it was possible. Fourth candidate in this debate Vikram Bajwa showed to us why he is not considered as strong candidate to take mayoral position over and run Surrey over the next term.
Cllr. Hepner who has long experience with the City of Surrey as staff member and Councillor in this debate showed that she will follow stile of current Mayor Dianne Watts. That stile is that opponent or whoever is on the other side of conversation will not be permitted to express themselves in full potential and will be shut down as soon as possible. In this instance Cllr. Hepner showed that she’s not interested in opinions of her opponents but promotion on her own stands which in many occasions are easily proven wrong. After all public record is there and as this is digital era majority of stands or public appearances of elected officials are recorded and widely available. For example Cllr. Hepner questioned Cllr. Rasode on issues of crime and transportation and her voice of disagreement on those in the past.
Claims, started by Mayor Watts, regarding Cllr. Rasode’s record on crime are already proven as baseless because facts are available. Cllr. Rasode in the past was key speaker on the council beside Mayor herself on the issue since 2011 Christmas shootings and even before that. When it comes to the transportation problems in the city Cllr. Rasode is wrong address, here is why.
Chair of Transport Committee was and it is Cllr. Hepner slate candidate Tom Gill, and as Cllr. Hepner said by herself other part of responsibility on this portfolio belongs to Mayor herself. So she should go and ask Cllr. Gill why nothing was done and why majority of promises given to voters over the last 9 years remained just dead words on the paper. Let’s not forgot that Mayor Watts recently said that she is planning to run for federal MP on that portfolio and Mayor Watts was one who went to PM Harper and federal government to ask for more than a billion dollars for LRT in Surrey. So responsibility clearly sits inside Surrey First slate and key people.
Doug McCallum who runs for Mayor once again kept his cool in this debate despite Cllr. Hepner behavior, interruption and continued presenting his stands. He is maybe a bit too confident that he can deliver all of his promises especially one related to much needed police officers. Depot which is preparing forces is not exclusively there to fill numbers of needed police officers to Surrey force and that must to be taken into the consideration. Also his plan to bring some of retired police officers could fire back because question is how many, if any, of retirees are ready to come back and fight crime in areas like Newton or Whalley.
McCallum’s second largest problem is that his previous record is not that much better than what Surrey sees today with Surrey First when it comes to public safety. He will need to deploy all his political skill in these last days to prove that he can be different than himself some decade ago. That is one of the biggest challenges and so far he does not shown that he will get away from his past.
Does Cllr. Rasode as two term Councillor bares any responsibility for what happened and still does in Surrey? Most definitely. As Councillor, Police Committee chair, member of Surrey First and elected official she has her share of responsibility and if people found her guilty her verdict will be delivered on November 15.
Where Cllr. Rasode has advantage is that she openly acknowledged her responsibility and now asks for chance to do different job as mayor of Surrey. Cllr. Rasode will face same problem as Doug McCallum on number of her promises because as we know from the past situations “first day in the office” promises are those to be broken.