It was of no surprise to anyone in Surrey yesterday that Barinder Rasode finally announced that she is running for mayor. After months of meeting with residents from every community in the city, she had already been acknowledged as a contender and had already been targeted by her opponents Doug McCallum and Linda Hepner.
But what was a surprise was how fast Surrey First released this attack following her announcement. http://www.surreyfirst.ca/2014/09/barinder-rasode-rich-on-opportunism-short-on-experience-2/
I’ll be quite frank- and in no defense of Rasode, but simply to remark what I and others have witnessed – I was surprised that it took Rasode as long as it did to leave Surrey First. If you have attended city council meetings or watched them online, the writing was on the wall for quite some time that things were not ok. Attempts to ask questions shut down, over looked or outright ignored. Snippy behavior.
I’ve been very critical of Surrey First over the years and here we are, in yet another election, with all the same issues from the last one still not addressed. A good example is the pay parking in Newton. It was an issue for businesses along 137 st. brought forward by Rina Gill in the last election. It was ignored. The city said no way, not removing them. Years later, with never-ending vacant storefronts and good small business owners still struggling, the strong advocacy of Newton residents finally resulted in the city agreeing to remove them…. but it took three years and another election to get it done.
Surrey First council is the reason why we have such a mess right on King George Boulevard at the site of the Newton Bingo Hall – and Newton will never forget that. The city plowed those slots through, ignoring residents opposition for years... until earlier this year when seeing an election on a horizon ( and being in the spotlight for their failures in Newton following Julie Paskalls tragic murder) they finally asked BCLC to remove them. And Hepner? Hepner was the cheerleader for those slots back when they first were approved and the approval was in opposition to the cities own gaming policy.
Newton was happy the slots were gone, but now we have a boarded up,half vacant mess that’s a huge eyesore right on the main road through Surrey. What does the city plan to do about it?
Surrey First current council also had to be reminded by a resident in a letter to the editor recently, that they do oppose their own policies and procedures, which often results in build-outs in areas not served by any form of transit and infrastructure to support new residents: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/letter-we-haven-t-forgotten-in-grandview-heights-1.1378722
And Hepner? Hepner is too busy to talk crime. She was too busy earlier this year when approached by CTV, she was too busy tweeting about meeting with the Whitecaps the day Surrey RCMP and IHIT released the horrific news of Serena Vermeersch’s murder. At least she’s naively honest about her priorities, as sad as it is.
Which leads me to McCallum.
McCallum has had some great ideas and his social media handlers have run a somewhat irritating strategy of agreeing with everything I tweet and retweeting it. They know crime and safety has been a big issue for me for years and that it makes it hard to argue with him. However, it’s fact that many of the issues Surrey is dealing with now – illegal suites, excessive,unchecked development and policing issues-began under his tenure.
McCallum’s history with others when he was last mayor, was anything but smooth. He was viewed as aggressive and domineering by soon to be former mayor Dianne Watts. And allegations that he tried to keep the RCMP from releasing bad news in the city follow him still. https://lailayuile.com/2014/07/31/a-bit-of-history-on-politics-and-the-surrey-rcmp/
This brings us firmly back to newly declared mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode, who McCallum has been thumping for holding closed police committee meetings during her time as chair – and rightly so. I fought to have those meetings opened where applicable, and for minutes to be posted promptly after I discovered many were missing. And it’s worthy to note that while the city provided minutes for most meetings to me, to this day,not all past minutes have been posted.
Following the death of Julie Paskall, Rasode spoke out publicly in acknowledging the city had failed Newton residents. She quickly was removed from the police committee and shortly thereafter issued this letter telling why she was leaving Surrey First to sit independently. http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/read-barinder-rasode-s-full-email-detailing-why-she-quit-surrey-first-1.974329
Rasode does have some hurdles in her campaign. Unhappy residents have already mentioned on social media her record of vote on developments or projects in their neighbourhood. Many say she has been just as much a part of the problem of why we are, where we are. I don’t know where my vote will go, but it is fair to say Rasode has been very involved in many community associations and assisting residents when they ask for help in some of the most vulnerable areas of Surrey- something most other councillors have not done. And the voting record will show that on many issues, Rasode, Hunt and Villaneuve have voted with conviction and conscience,and have been outvoted.
Those who know me and the amount of time I’ve spent covering Surrey issues in this blog, know that I’ve seen a lot of things that can turn a stomach quickly. I used to joke that living in Newton gave me PTSD but it’s not really a joke for the people who still live in the heart of Newton.
It’s frustrating to see the good in Surrey continually overshadowed by the reality that crime is still a huge issue in this city, no matter where you live.A South Surrey Grandview area resident recently freaked out when he saw the crime stats for that district showed robberies were up 190%. While more cops wont fix it all, it remains a fact that we don’t have enough on the street to compensate for the population, or the massive geographic area of the city itself.
You get the idea. Hepner is right in her release that voters will have to decide if we are better off now than we were 9 years ago. But she fails to realize that voters will also look to who the candidate is that demonstrates an understanding of all the unique issues in every neighbourhood and which candidate is willing to acknowledge our weaknesses, not just the cities strengths.
What is needed desperately, is a cohesive plan that makes small moves forward in every town centre, instead of focusing on one, leaving the others to fester. We need to take care of what we already have,before we start building more visions and fantasies.
Because quite frankly,some of us are looking for a little more than ferris wheels and soccer teams.