Gordie Hogg: Surrey deserves better, we’ve had enough of hidden agendas, embarrassing incidents, and ignoring taxpayers. We need a mayor and council that put Surrey first.
Surrey, BC (July 20, 2022): Surrey First launched its October 15 municipal election campaign today by naming former Surrey MLA and MP Gordie Hogg as its mayoral candidate, and introducing the first three of its slate of eight council nominees, including current city councillor Linda Annis, Bilal Cheema and Mary-Em Waddington.
“When it comes to the election in October, the question for Surrey voters is clear: have you had enough yet, and do you believe we can do better, together?” said Hogg, who began his career as a youth probation officer in Whalley, before being elected as a Surrey MLA and MP. “Surrey First mayors Dianne Watts and Linda Hepner had a real vision for this city, they made the rest of BC sit up and take notice of this incredible community, and the people of Surrey stepped up and took pride in their city. They saw its potential and knew this place could be a national leader on so many levels.
“But over the past four years Surrey residents have had a tough go of it as they witnessed one man’s destructive my-way-or-the-highway approach to governing, fellow citizens banned from city hall, double digit tax increases, a criminal case hanging over the head of their mayor, and a divisive police transition that is at least a year behind schedule, with an estimated $200 million price tag.”
Hogg was introduced at the campaign launch by Councillor Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, who was elected to council in 2018.
“I’ve known Gordie Hogg for more than 20 years and his Surrey roots and connections go all the way back to his childhood when his family moved from Victoria to the then Surrey neighbourhood of White Rock,” noted Annis who lives in South Surrey. “Gordie and his wife, LaVerne, were local foster parents for six years, and for 12 years they were billet parents for the Surrey Eagles hockey team. Today, after more than 22 years as a Surrey MLA and MP, Gordie Hogg remains on a variety of community boards and local committees, including KidsSport, Food Banks BC, and Brella Community Services, which provides services to seniors.”
Annis said Gordie Hogg “will be a breath of fresh air at city hall because he listens” and his reputation for honesty and integrity “will be a refreshing change, which means Surrey voters will always be welcome at their city hall.”
Hogg said he sees three “big opportunities” for a new Surrey council, including giving Surrey voters the final say on police transition, more and better access to city hall, and the chance to make Surrey “an opportunity city” that provides prosperity and livability for residents, families and businesses.
“Linda Annis is often described as the adult in the room at city hall, and she is the only Surrey councillor who actually ran on giving Surrey voters a referendum on policing, and we want to follow through on that commitment if we’re elected,” said Hogg. “We will give people all the facts about costs so far and what it will cost to carry on, then let Surrey residents decide who will police their city. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of catch up to do because Surrey has not hired a single new police officer over the past four years, even though the city has attracted thousands of new residents.”
Hogg said making city hall more accessible includes scheduling time at the start of each council meeting so residents can ask questions of council and staff, keeping city hall open later to accommodate residents who are working during the day, and taking council meetings into local neighbourhoods.
“Every Surrey First candidate in this election is committed to giving city hall back to the people of Surrey, making people feel welcome again, and taking some council meetings into local neighbourhoods where we can hear from more and more of the people who call Surrey home,” explained Hogg. “When Surrey residents were banned from city hall by the mayor it made news right across the country, because that’s what you expect from politicians who have given up on democracy. We cannot let that ever happen again.”
Hogg also believes that with a competent and caring city council, and the right policies and practices, Surrey has the potential to be “an opportunity city” that gives every resident, family and business the chance to build a better and more prosperous future.
“Surrey is home to more than 100 languages, and no other city in the country has the diversity we have right here,” added Hogg. “That diversity gives us confidence and inspires innovation and creativity. It means big ideas don’t scare us. Instead, we see them as opportunities, and when you have a united city council that works together, and a community that feels engaged and respected, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish as a city.
“Just look at the Build Surrey program that Dianne Watts brought about to build more parks, pools and community centres, or the addition of a new city hall to establish a real city centre, or the benchmark biofuel plant that Linda Hepner put in place that did something positive for the environment. A united city and council can get so much more done, and that’s particularly true when it comes to livability, or attracting new businesses so Surrey residents can stop commuting out of their city to jobs in other communities.”
Hogg also introduced two new council candidates, who will be joined over the next two weeks by the rest of the 2022 Surrey First team.
“Bilal Cheema and his young family live in Chimney Heights, and over the years he has been an advisor to several federal ministers, including Health, Fisheries and Oceans, and Immigration,” said Hogg. “In addition, Bilal has served as a negotiator for the government of Canada on such issues as resources and First Nations self-government. He will bring a strong understanding of government decision making to city hall, and like me he knows how important federal and provincial partnerships are to a growing city like Surrey, particularly as we work those relationships to help Surrey and its families. At the same time, Bilal and his wife Sana have three small children and know firsthand the livability issues facing young families in Surrey every day.”
Hogg said Mary-Em Waddington, who has lived in both the Guildford and Clayton neighbourhoods with her two children, will bring her education, climate change, and environmental focus to city hall.
“Mary-Em is Executive Director of the BC Technology for Learning Society which collects, refurbishes and redistributes computers and laptops to schools, libraries and low-income families,” said Hogg. “In addition, Mary-Em has held leadership positions on various community boards including Surrey Hospice Society, Recycling Council of BC, and Canadian Parents for French. She understands the importance of giving youngsters the technology they need to reach their potential, and her passion for sustainability, equity and transparency will help ensure a new city council hears from as many creative voices as possible.”
Hogg said he was extremely pleased that Councillor Linda Annis decided to run again and thanked her for “her first four years” at city hall.
“Linda’s commitment to this city and its citizens is loud and clear at every council meeting,” said Hogg. “Whether it’s calling for an auditor general to keep an eye on city finances, working to have an hour at every council meeting so citizens can ask questions, or pushing back with the facts when the mayor and his four councillors ignore and sideline taxpayers, Linda has been a real champion for the people of Surrey, often times the only balanced and thoughtful voice on an otherwise dysfunctional council. Her work ethic will be a model for all of us elected to council on October 15, because like so many voters in Surrey she genuinely believes that together, we can do better.”