Rasode Throws Down The Gauntlet But Will Mayor Watts Bite?

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Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode’s departure from Mayor Dianne Watts team was long in the cards after more than year of ongoing squabbling. But the real reason for her leaving could be her long time ambition to seek the mayor’s chair, which many believe she planned to due regardless of whether Watts leaves or not. She just needed the right moment to do so. This decision to split is not random but much planned and according to LINK sources, she has some heavy backing politically from numerous established political party players which have long planned to control Surrey as it is the fastest growing city in the lower mainland. The resignation is just the beginning of this new political force slowly unveiling itself as Surrey heads to election in November.

By R. Paul Dhillon With News Files

SURREY – Isolated Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode, who picked a fight with mayor Dianne Watts last year, did the long expected on this week by throwing down the gauntlet but will Watts bite and run against her former protege for all the marbles?

News reports on Friday were ripe with speculation Dianne Watts may face a leadership challenge in the forthcoming municipal elections following Rasode announcement Thursday she was leaving the mayor’s Surrey First party.

Rasode announced her decision to become an independent via Twitter.

Rasode claims her outspoken position on public safety concerns has left her isolated within the ranks of Surrey First, reported CBC news.

Asked if she is planning to run for mayor, she said: “Like many of my colleagues, it’s certainly something I would consider strongly.”

The rumour machine is already rife with names of fellow Surrey First councillors — Linda Hepner and Tom Gill — who may be planning to do electoral battle. But both have said that they would only do so if Watts decides not to run.

Watts on the other hand has been coy about whether she will run again after she denied that she was jumping ship to federal politics as a candidate for the Conservatives in next year’s expected federal election.

Asked Friday about her civic electoral plans, Watts remained mum.

“There’s going to be an election in November,” Watts told CBC news.  “If I make [any decision] to the contrary, you’ll be the first to know.”

But Watts did put out a statement on Rasode’s departure, saying she was not happy with her former colleague’s decision but will support her role on the Committee Rasode chairs.

“I am saddened and disappointed that Councillor Rasode feels she is unable to work within the team environment to bring issues forward to council and our committees,” Watts said in a news release Friday.

“Myself and council will continue to support Councillor Rasode in her role as the Chair of Community Safety. As she has held the Public Safety portfolio for the past two years we will continue to encourage her to bring issues forward to council chambers for discussion.

“There is a significant amount of work we are undertaking to move the City of Surrey forward and this continues to remain my top priority. At this point in time, I will remain focused on that task and will not engage in electioneering.”

Saying she is being discouraged from thinking or acting independently, an outspoken Surrey councillor is cutting ties with the Surrey First team.

Rasode cited ongoing friction between her and the Mayor and her team, saying she has left the coalition of independents which has controlled every seat on council because she is being discouraged from thinking or acting independently.

And Rasode told The Leader newspaper if Watts chooses not to run again in November’s civic election, she will be running for mayor.

“I do believe if the mayor’s chair is vacant, I do believe I would make a very strong voice for the residents of Surrey…  a very competent voice as well,” Rasode told The Leader Wednesday at her Cloverdale home.

She told the LINK Friday that her current plans are to remain an independent and continue to work for the greater good of Surrey residents, especially in the area of public safety.

Rasode and Watts feud has been going on for over a year but it escalated when she publicly feuded with the mayor over crime and safety, saying the city needed to revisit its strategy around the Newton Town Centre Plan and called for more police.

The reaction from her fellow councillors, she told the Leader, was an “isolating” experience.

“That heightened isolation has led me to re-evaluate how effective I can be in a team environment,” Rasode said.

The push-back she says she’s getting on council is preventing her from doing her job effectively.

“That is my reason for leaving,” she told the Leader

Another reason for her leaving is her long time ambition to seek the mayor’s chair, which many believe she planned to due regardless of whether Watts leaves or not. She just needed the right moment to do so.

This decision to split is not random but much planned and according to LINK sources, she has some heavy backing politically from numerous established party sources which have long planned to control Surrey as it is the fastest growing city in the lower mainland. The resignation is just the beginning of this new political force slowly unveiling itself as Surrey heads to election in November.