The man once described by the late Surrey councillor Gary Robinson as the “soul of Surrey” is thinking politics.
But it’s not about a personal comeback. At 82, former mayor Bob Bose says he’s done.
With voters heading to the polls in the fall, he believes that they deserve another choice for mayor other than Surrey First councillor Linda Hepner, and ex-Surrey First and now independent councillor Barinder Rasode.
And it’s not Bose’s former nemesis Doug McCallum either, although McCallum has said that he may want the job again.
“It’s certainly not too late for a number of what one might describe as dark horse candidates,” Bose told the Straight in a phone interview.
Bose said it could be someone who would “come through the middle” and simply “capture the imagination of all Surrey residents”.
And according to Bose, he’s “actively involved” in talking to prospective candidates whom he described as “well established in the community”.
“Just to tease you a little bit,” Bose said with delight. “There is a growing group of community leaders representing neighbourhoods, community associations. In my view, it’s from amongst those leaders in communities across Surrey that we’ll find a really strong challenger for the mayor’s position.”
But without their permission, Bose can’t say who they are.
According to Bose, these people want one thing: “They are trying to bring local government down to the community level.”
Hepner, a former city manager of economic development, has been chosen by the ruling Surrey First to succeed outgoing mayor Dianne Watts.
“Linda is definitely on the side of growth promotion, and I’m not sure that the citizens of Surrey are all that comfortable with the level of growth, the inadequate services, the conflicts that exist,” Bose said. “I think that kind of focus...it’s a misplaced priority.”
The former mayor noted that transportation and public safety are top of mind for residents in the city.
It’s the issue of public safety that led Rasode to break ranks with Watts and Surrey First. Following the killing of Julie Paskall outside a Newton rink last year, Rasode said that the city hadn’t done enough to protect its citizens.
But according to Bose, there is a “bit of a problem” for Rasode.
“She burned a lot of bridges when she left Surrey Civic Coalition,” Bose said.
Rasode failed to win a seat on council in 2005 as a candidate with the Surrey Civic Coalition. She jumped to Surrey First, and was elected twice since.
In the 2011 election, the Surrey Civic Coalition was shut out from council by Surrey First. Then Surrey Civic Coalition’s lone councillor, Bose lost his seat, effectively ending his storied career in Surrey politics. (The Surrey Civic Coalition has since been replaced by a new party, Surrey Matters.)
“I have a lot of respect for Barinder,” Bose said about Rasode. “She’s a very smart lady. She’s got a huge amount of energy. I do not want to leave the impression that I don’t recognize her talent.”
Doug Elford, a former Surrey Civic Coalition candidate for council, doesn’t have any firm plans yet to either run for a civic seat or support candidates.
Like Bose, Elford believes that Surrey voters are open to seeing an alternative to established politicians.
“I get a sense that the community is looking for change, and certainly, council needs a level of, I guess, opposition in a sense, so we can get a strong debate on issues in council,” Elford told the Straight by phone. “Right now, everything is done behind closed doors, and there’s a real lack of transparency. And I think the public are beginning to notice that or maybe hungry for a change.”
Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains of the B.C. NDP hasn’t decided who to back for mayor.
According to Bains, anyone who can present a good plan on crime is a potential winner.
“Police and local politicians talk about statistics but those are totally eschewed,” Bains told the Straight in a phone interview. “It’s a far worse situation than what statistics are showing.”
For Bose, the contest for mayor in Surrey will be one, if not the most, exciting race come November 15.
According to Bose, Hepner is beatable not just by Rasode, but also by any credible challenger who may emerge from the community.
Bose put it this way: “It’s wide open in my judgment, because I don’t think Linda Hepner, as nice a lady as she is, doesn’t have the cachet that Watts has.”