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Mayoral Candidate Hepner Is Beatable And Her Surrey First Team Is Vulnerable Given The Loud Voices For Change!

So Who Will You Choose For Surrey Mayor From Declared Or Soon To Be Declared Candidates Barinder Rasode, Linda Hepner And Doug “Paaji” McCallum?

From Left to Right - Barinder Rasode, Doug McCallum, aka "Doug Paaji" and Linda Hepner

While there were many Indo-Canadians in attendance during Linda Hepner’s unveiling as Surrey First’s mayoral candidate on Wednesday and the three new members on their council candidates team, all of whom are white, the elephant in the room was that the party only had one Indo-Canadian-South Asian candidate in incumbent Tom Gill, who many don’t even recognize as Indo-Canadian. Hepner’s response to the tough questions about the diversity of her slate was that they don’t need any more Indo-Canadian candidates. But she will take your votes! LOL! “I think gone are the days when you stand in front of a podium and let people know you’ve chosen to represent them,” Rasode said of Hepner, who is already positioning herself as the heir apparent to outgoing Surrey mayor Dianne Watts. “Now is the time for residents to say this is who we choose to represent us.”

By R. Paul Dhillon

SURREY – While Surrey First may have made all the noise this week with the unveiling of their largely all White slate (Tom Gill is Surrey first’s only Indo-Canadian candidate but most people have trouble recognizing him as a member of the large South Asian community in Surrey) and Linda Hepner for mayor to replace outgoing Dianne Watts, but it was the beginning of what should turn out to be one of the most colourful elections in Surrey’s history and perhaps even a changing of the guard with two heavyweight contenders for mayor in upstart Barinder Rasode taking a shot at mayor with possibly a full slate of candidates under a similar independent candidate umbrella as her former Surrey First team and the return of former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum, aka Doug “Paaji” (Paaji means big brother in Punjabi), under whose Surrey’s many developers and land speculators made millions!

While there were many Indo-Canadians in attendance during Hepner’s unveiling as Surrey First’s mayoral candidate on Wednesday and the three new members on their council candidates team, all of whom are white, the elephant in the room was that the party only had one Indo-Canadian-South Asian candidate in incumbent Tom Gill, who many don’t even recognize as Indo-Canadian.

Hepner’s response to the tough questions about the diversity of her slate was that they don’t need any more Indo-Canadian candidates. But she will take your votes! LOL!

Many political pundits see Hepner as a weak mayoral candidate, who is likely not to connect with diverse voters and even voters in the larger community due to her team’s expensive new Surrey city hall which has had its costs run over in the millions.

And Hepner will also spell trouble for her council team, which has won largely on Watts popularity and lead in.

Only Judy Villeneuve is seen as winnable from Hepner’s batch while the other incumbent councillors Bruce Hayne, Gill, Mary Martin, and Barbara Steele are vulnerable for defeat and the newcomers Vera LeFranc, Dave Woods and Mike Starchuk will have a huge climb to get in the winners’ circle.

Surrey First’s troubles could spell bonanza for contenders Rasode and McCallum, who is rumoured to be very close to announcing his intentions to run as mayor, even though earlier rumours had him seeking Council candidacy as part of Rasode’s team, according to LINK sources close to the former mayor of Surrey.

Rasode, who has momentum with her Community Hub initiative and her break from Surrey First after over her difference with the mayor on the city’s crime reduction strategy, could be the real beneficiary if McCallum steps into the race, most likely cutting deeply into Surrey First’s vote bank, which will be quite small this time compared to what they have enjoyed under Watts before the party’s scandals and troubles.

One of these issues Watts and Surrey First received criticism was the fact that Surrey had 25 murders in 2013 and subsequently the community was outraged when hockey mom Julie Paskall was killed outside the Newton Arena in December. Her killer, a man with a criminal past in Ontario, was caught recently.

The party has also come under fire for the new $100 million city hall building.

“I think gone are the days when you stand in front of a podium and let people know you’ve chosen to represent them,” Rasode told CBC news. “Now is the time for residents to say this is who we choose to represent us.”

Rasode told the LINK she will focus on in her campaign, public safety, transparency and spending.

In a story in Globe and Mail newspaper last week, Rasode has already set up her campaign team, which includes Premier Christy Clark’s ex-husband Mark Marissen as adviser. She has also hired her former friend Watts’ communications’ manager of three years, Tara Foslien, for her campaign.

R. Paul Dhillon is the Editor of the South Asian LINK Newspaper. He is an award winning journalist and filmmaker. His debut feature film was Sweet Amerika starring Bollywood veteran Gulshan Grover, a drama set around the time of 9/11 attacks in New York, which he co-wrote, produced and directed.

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