The return of Doug McCallum could spoil Linda Hepner’s chances of becoming the next mayor of Surrey, says one old hand in the city.
Former councillor and now Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt also suggested that a McCallum bid for the mayor’s chair might boost Barinder Rasode’s prospects of winning.
“Doug McCallum’s entry into race would tend to have more an effect on Linda Hepner,” Hunt told the Straight in a phone interview today (July 3).
Hunt was responding to questions on how the November 15 civic election in Surrey might shape up.
Hunt served for 23 years as councillor. He resigned in January following his election in 2013 as a B.C. Liberal MLA.
McCallum lost the mayor’s seat in 2005 to current officeholder Dianne Watts, and is said to be contemplating a comeback. He is expected to make an announcement about his plans on Monday (July 7).
Watts isn’t running for another term. Her Surrey First team has anointed Hepner, a councillor, as her successor.
Meanwhile, Rasode, a councillor who bolted Surrey First, is widely anticipated to declare that she wants to become mayor.
According to Hunt, it’s possible that McCallum may come back not as mayoral contestant, but as a candidate for council.
“We saw that with Bob Bose. Bob Bose had been the mayor for nine years, and then came back and ran for a council seat,” Hunt recalled.
But if McCallum decides he wants his old job back, Hunt suggested that it’s not going to be good news for Hepner.
“That would have the potential of splitting that centre-right vote,” Hunt said.
He explained that McCallum and Hepner are “centre-right of the spectrum, where Barinder has come from the more left side of things”.
Hunt was also asked about how Surrey’s ethnic makeup could influence the results of the mayoral competition.
Based on the 2011 census, 40.5 percent of Surrey’s population are foreign-born immigrants. The most common countries of birth of immigrants living in the city are India at 37.6 percent and the Philippines at 10.8 percent.
Rasode’s South Asian roots could be a huge plus in courting the votes of immigrant communities in the city.
According to Hunt, Surrey’s ethnic vote “tends to spread” out in municipal elections instead of “concentrating” as has been observed during provincial and federal elections.