Surrey city councillor Bob Bose told the Straight he was feeling some disappointment following independent councillor Judy Villeneuve’s announcement she has jumped to mayor Dianne Watts’ Surrey First coalition.
Surrey First has already confirmed that Watts and councillors Tom Gill, Linda Hepner, Mary Martin, Barbara Steele, and now Villeneuve will all be seeking re-election under the coalition’s banner in November.
Bose, former three-term Surrey mayor and long-time independent councillor, reformed the Surrey Civic Coalition ahead of the 2005 election, but was the only councillor elected under that banner.
"We certainly made every effort to have Judy on side [in 2005]," Bose said by phone. "That would’ve helped us as a civic organization in building a base. So in that sense we have had the rug pulled out from under us."
Of Villeneuve’s latest move Bose added, "It is hard to know why Judy did it. From what I understand she simply did not want to campaign as an independent any longer, and she felt that was just more effort than she was willing to put into it. I don’t know what that means, but as a civic organization, SCC endorsed her, we invited her to run with us, and she declined. So there are a lot of disappointed people, put it that way."
Speaking by phone February 20, Villeneuve—elected three times as an independent—told the Straight, "Ultimately, I am happy with my choice."
"This time I have had a really positive term on council," Villeneuve said. "Mayor Watts has been very supportive and allowed me to move forward with a lot of initiatives I had wanted to put in place, such as the homelessness and housing foundation, and she re-established the social-planning committee, so we can deal with the social issues in the city."
This is just one of a number of shifts in Surrey since the once-formidable Surrey Electors Team’s years of dominance on council under former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum ended in 2005. Councillors Marvin Hunt and Judy Higginbotham are all that is left of SET.
Watts told the Straight she and Villeneuve have a "great working relationship".