Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner will not seek re-election in October (updated)

Linda Hepner
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

EVEN as Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner made a surprise announcement on Tuesday evening that she will not seek re-election in the municipal election in October, the buzz was that a former B.C. Liberal minister would be quitting provincial politics to run for mayor in Surrey.

We will have to wait and see how things turn out finally. But there will be rumours galore from now on about possible mayoral candidates besides possible Council candidates and even possible new parties and coalitions to challenge the monopoly of Surrey First party.

Councillor Tom Gill is expected to run for mayor, but he will have to see who his opponent or opponents will be. Gill got over 50,300 votes in 2014 – the highest among all the councillors.

The solid support of voters especially from the Cloverdale area in the 2014 election resulted in a humiliating defeat for Hepner’s rivals – former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum and then-Councillor Barinder Rasode. Hepner garnered 50,782 votes, while McCallum got 27,985 votes and Rasode won 21,764 votes in the final count. Hepner’s Surrey First party won all the Council seats: Tom Gill, Judy Villeneuve, Barbara Steele, Mary Martin, Bruce Hayne, Dave Woods, Mike Starchuk and Vera LeFranc.

Hepner’s announcement came as a surprise because she told a local newspaper in February that she would run for a second and final term to ensure that Surrey took its rightful place as the ‘Future Lives Here’ city. But quite evidently her Surrey First party was anything but united and she decided to quit.

Only four Councillors joined Hepner at her Wednesday’s press conference at which she asserted there was no discord in her Surrey First team.

Hepner, who becomes the ninth Lower Mainland mayor to decide not to run for re-election in the 2018 municipal election, emailed the following statement on Tuesday evening to the media:

“For 33 years the City of Surrey has been a chosen priority in my life and I have been honoured to serve the people of this City.

“Now after this four-year term as Mayor, nine years as Councillor and more than two decades as a senior staff member, I have decided not to seek re-election at the end of this Council term.

“During my time with Surrey, the City has evolved from a modest suburb into the region’s second metropolitan centre and a globally recognized leading edge city. I am very proud to have contributed to this transformation, but there will always be more to do, more to achieve and, therefore, there is never an ideal time to leave.

“I have thought long and hard about this and it has not been an easy decision to make, but I sincerely believe that now is the right time to dedicate more time to my family and friends.

“I look forward to serving out my term as Mayor as we finalize the largest investment in transportation and housing in the City’s history. In my more than three decades at the City of Surrey, I have had the pleasure to work with remarkable people at all levels and I have made many friends along the way. To all the staff at the City, I want to thank you for the exceptional work you have done and continue to do. Finally, I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people of Surrey for their ongoing trust and support. It has been an honour and privilege to serve you and the City of Surrey.”

Other incumbent mayors who will not seek re-election: Gregor Robertson (Vancouver), Lois Jackson (Delta), Wayne Baldwin (White Rock), Ted Schaffer (City of Langley), Darrell Mussatto (City of North Vancouver), Richard Walton (District of North Vancouver), Greg Moore (Port Coquitlam), and Nicole Read (Maple Ridge).

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