Former NDP politician Jinny Sims announced Wednesday she will enter the mayor’s race in Surrey, adding a notable new candidate to a civic-election campaign already filled with drama because of controversies surrounding the current mayor.
Ms. Sims, who has represented ridings in Surrey as a federal and provincial NDP member since 2011, said the problems surrounding Mayor Doug McCallum and his team are why she is running to represent the second-most-populous city in B.C.
“I’m doing this because city hall is broken. It lacks transparency. I’m running to bring fairness,” said Ms. Sims, currently the MLA for Surrey-Panorama who was president of the B.C. Teachers Federation in the 2000s when teachers were in a protracted battle with the B.C. Liberal government.
“It’s time to take Surrey forward. It’s a city that has so much to offer.”
Ms. Sims’ entry is the latest in tumultuous, crowded campaigns in both Vancouver and Surrey ahead of the October vote. Multiple parties have formed to challenge mayors perceived to be vulnerable and councils perceived to be fractured.
Surrey Forward, the party Ms. Sims has formed and which plans to run a half dozen council candidates, will be one of four parties competing. Her campaign manager, Stephen Carter, recently ran the successful mayoral bid of Jyoti Gondek in Calgary.
Ms. Sims is the third mayoral candidate to enter. Mr. McCallum will run again with his Safe Surrey Coalition party. Councillor Brenda Locke, a former B.C. Liberal MLA who broke away from Mr. McCallum’s party shortly after being elected, is also running for mayor and has formed Surrey Connect.
For months, Mr. McCallum has been mired in controversy after he was charged with public mischief for claiming last fall that a resident opposed to his plans for a new municipal police service drove over his foot. Mr. McCallum originally refused calls to step aside as chair of the new police board despite the charges and an Oct. 30 trial date, but he said last week that he would absent himself from the board until the election.
The plan for a new municipal police force has prompted an unusual level of public backlash, some of it funded by the National Police Federation that represents RCMP members.
Mr. McCallum has repeatedly attempted to minimize the public opposition to his police plan to replace the RCMP. With the support of four councillors who have remained loyal to him, he has blocked vocal opponents from coming to council and passed a motion to put a moratorium on any new investigations by the ethics commissioner in advance of the Oct. 15 civic election.
In an interview, Ms. Sims would not pledge to stop the city’s transition from an RCMP force to a municipal police one Instead, she said that if she is elected mayor, she will gather as much information as possible about the pros and cons of switching and make that information public.
“It is not about the Surrey police. It’s about the best safety and security at the best price. I want us to choose the best option,” said Ms. Sims.
She is also not going to campaign against the SkyTrain to Langley. Shortly after he was elected mayor, Mr. McCallum shelved a previous plan agreed to by two previous mayors for a light-rail network within the city and instead argued Surrey should be connected to its eastern neighbour by the much more costly SkyTrain.
“It’s exciting. It’s going to go all the way into Langley,” said Ms. Sims, who added that Surrey still needs to work on a better plan for transportation within the sprawling city that is the largest geographically in the province.
However, Ms. Sims said she will challenge the refusal by Mr. McCallum and his council supporters to approve a new housing complex for people with disabilities.
In Vancouver, there are five candidates for mayor and 10 parties running in the election. Some of those running for council are representing parties they haven’t historically been associated with.
Morgane Oger, a longtime NDP activist who has run for office both federal and provincially and who endorsed Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart in the past election, is seeking a council nomination with former B.C. Liberal campaigner Mark Marissen and his Progress Vancouver party.
Bill Tieleman, a communications consultant who has been affiliated with many NDP initiatives and politicians, along with various unions, said this week he will seek a nomination as a council candidate with Councillor Colleen Hardwick’s new TEAM party. Ms. Hardwick has focused heavily on concerns about all the new housing development being planned for Vancouver. Former Green Party council candidate, lawyer Cleta Brown, also said she is seeking a nomination with TEAM.
The Non-Partisan Association, once the dominant centre-right party in Vancouver politics, announced a slate of candidates that has many connections to policing, while ABC, the new party led by Ken Sim – who represented the NPA when he came in second to Mayor Kennedy Stewart in the past campaign – added former Vancouver police department spokesman Brian Montague to its roster.
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