Those who follow Surrey politics know that Councillor Barinder Rasode made local headlines a couple of weeks ago when she resigned from Surrey First to sit as an independent on council. Rasode was part of the coalition since 2008, when she made history being the first woman of South Asian descent elected to council in Surrey.
Perhaps this appeal she will attempt to leverage in a city with a distinct South Asian base come November, though for the mayor’s office or a seat on council remains to be officially realized. Pursuing the former does, however, feel early, even amid the current splintering of the guard, it’s a risky play.
Line in the sand
If anything, Rasode has now emerged as a staunch alternative, however slight or extreme, to the Surrey First brand, something desperately needed, at least for the sake of political debate. Rasode claimed three issues demarcated her sudden departure from the coalition:
1. The approach taken toward public safety and fighting crime
2. Spending at City Hall
3. Community consultation
According to local reports Rasode went even further, stating:
“It has become obvious that I am not able to offer alternative viewpoints while remaining a member of Surrey First. Following the tragic death of Julie Paskall, I spoke out about the need to fulfill the commitment in our crime reduction strategy to hire more police officers, and implement additional safety measures in Newton and around our facilities. In the weeks following, I was criticized by council both privately and publically (sic), cut off from staff resources, removed as Chair of the Police Committee, and stopped receiving Council updates from the OIC of the Surrey RCMP.”
Watts, after a brief silence, went on the offensive claiming Rasode’s comments were misleading, equating her remarks as nothing more than “electioneering.”
It certainly is an interesting way to exit and appears as steadfast political posturing after such a bitter fallout, especially when a resignation within an election year is outlined by three distinct issues conveniently displayed as contrasting to the current council position, Watts thus included.
An opinion of events
The critical point of course is whether Rasode’s comments were truthful and sincere. This is difficult to ascertain unless you are on council or are able to view the inner workings, but her recent removal as chair of the police committee is an interesting event to examine.
Newton’s struggle to combat crime in its area came to a head with the murder of Julie Paskall this past January. Rasode, as reported by the Now’s Amy Reid, broke party lines, claiming the city was indeed not doing enough to quell the crime and safety concerns that had been brewing in areas of Newton.
Watts ostensibly clipped Rasode’s wings at the next council meeting via Rasode’s removal from the police committee chair position and by further naming councillors Linda Hepner, Bruce Hayne and Barbara Steele to support the work being done in the “restructuring of the committees”—coincidentally, two of three supporting councillors are supposed mayoral hopefuls.
Watts’ decision most definitely props those members up as leading the new charge against crime in the city—an important and pivotal issue—and the move publicly debased Rasode’s efforts purely through the connotation of it, despite Watts’ seemingly hollow commendations.
Newton can be considered Rasode’s constituency base, it’s where she lived a good part of her life as well. Remaining on Surrey First, a coalition representative of all the successes and failures of Surrey (i.e. homelessness, crime in Newton), would more than hint at an about-face attitude. In an election year this could spell disaster. Furthermore, politically, Watts’ actions left little by way of choice.
A move of necessity
Rasode’s resignation was a bold move, but also necessary to preserve the integrity of her position. Rasode was penalized for publicly going against the grain on a matter of local policy and governance, despite the restructuring excuse Watts extended.
In such a position, Rasode could do two things: stand in line or take a stance. She chose the latter.
But despite the face-off and contrasting perspective on the issues outlined above, it seems a risky play for Rasode to run for Surrey’s top political spot. Furthermore, a council seat would be easiest to secure in 2014, compared to recent times.
In 2011, Rasode retained seven per cent of the votes cast (33,616 votes), numbers incrementally better than in 2008 (32,710 votes). This despite roughly 9,000 more voters reaching the polls in 2011 than the election previous.
Rasode’s heritage and recent headlines made, may boost her popularity in the short term, however, in overall it’s tough to say, especially when it’s vying for a single seat. Rasode was the eighth and final councillor elected in the 2011 election. Her popularity after a single term was still thousands of votes below each of her council mates, one of whom will indeed be running for mayor this year.
The mayor’s seat is a risky proposition. A good portion of Watts’ 80 per cent vote retention from 2011 could very well transfer to her Surrey First successor. Also likely is that Rasode will be left with a vote-splitting situation against a former coalition running mate, and, if loses, will be left out of the political arena altogether. It’s certainly difficult to gauge, at least from my position on the outside, how the Surrey First brand will fare without its the congenial Watts.
The safe play is thus to run for another council seat and build-up political steam over the next term, albeit while a new mayor sits in office. But Rasode could critique and thereby shape policy as a councillor, demonstrating a vision for the city just as she is beginning to do as an independent on council.
On Rasode’s heels in 2011 was former mayor Bob Bose with 25,832 votes. But, Bose retired from politics following the previous election. Furthermore, Marvin Hunt currently sits in provincial pastures and either Councillor Linda Hepner or Bruce Hayne will not be around to sop up votes as one is likely to run for mayor.
Therefore, hypothetically, 20 to 22 per cent (2011 elections figures) of the vote previously soaked up will be available in the upcoming council election and this number could very well increase if this year’s elections see more than a quarter of eligible voters turn out.* Also noteworthy is that the remaining candidates on the 2011 ballot, besides Bose, only secured up to three per cent of the vote, or less.
The landscape of swing votes is enormous, potentially 1/5 of voters turning up at polls will need to select from a handful of new candidates. This will certainly elevate the status of those experienced politicians, including Rasode and will practically ensure her a place on council and offer an opportunity to gauge her support among her fellow candidate.
The mayor’s office is indeed a better goal, but a riskier play.
While citizens of Surrey may want change, it’s certainly difficult to believe Rasode will be perceived as that paradigm shift having been a part of the pack for six years or so. Though, maybe the two-term councillor is content with an all or nothing ordeal or has indeed swayed local voters. The thing to remember however, and Bose will remind you, even when you think you’re coming up on the right side of the issues, election day may prove otherwise.
This year’s municipal elections will be interesting to those interested.
Rasode selected an opportune time to turn independent with a splintering coalition, which could very well further divide in the course of backing their next mayoral candidate. Rasode should be praised for her move to stand up, even if she previously played a part in creating the status quo that exists as a two-term serving member of council.She felt change was needed and voiced an honest opinion. It’s a shame it had to occur on the backdrop of a tragic murder.
There is definitely a chasm between Watts’ Surrey First and Rasode’s position, the question is, where will the Surrey electorate fall? Will voters remain steadfast Surrey First supporters after Watts’ departure or will they decide that it’s time for change? And if the latter, who best to represent an air of change? We simply won’t know until November. Get out and vote.
* Note that, in 2011, there were approximately 279,140 eligible municipal voters of which just over 79,000 showed to the polls (25% turnout). This was one percentile greater than the turnout for 2008. In 2005, about 35% voter turnout was had. The 2011 elections figures are from the City of Surrey website at http://www.surrey.ca/8928.aspx.
The window for official nominations opens Sept. 29, 2014.
Newton Days is bringing back the Summer Fun!
Let’s kick-off summer in Newton! The Newton BIA is bringing back Newton days with events all summer. Complete with a farms’ market, kid fun zone, face painting, food trucks, henna and Science World demonstrations, Newton Days has something for everyone.
Throughout July and August, Newton Days will be taking over the Newton Grove on Saturdays from 12-4pm. Open to the community, everything will be free! Each Saturday will feature something different, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook events for more details.
Newton Days is a push to create a more vibrant community within the Newton Town Centre. Get out, enjoy the weather, enjoy the activities, and get to know your neighborhood! Positive events like these in the community are key to the success of Newton and will be more successful with your support!
Science World demonstrations
Friends of the Grove
Surrey Fire Prevention
Black Belt Academy
North Surrey Minor Football
Newton Recreation Centre
Surrey Parks and Rec
City of Surrey
3rd Annual Groundhog Day in Newton!
Groundhog Day in Newton returns for the third year of fun. Prepare for a chilling day filled with activities, treats, and live entertainment! Groundhog Day will be taking place in the Newton Grove, next to the Bus loop. Start the day with a free pancake breakfast courtesy by the Surrey RCMP; visit the crafts and games section for some fun activities provided by the Newton Community Centre. And right beside there is the Friends of the Grove tent with free hot chocolate and cupcakes, and while there why not learn a little more about these active community change-makers!
What’s an event without music right? Join Lou Jack and Ginalina as we dance away the cold; and end the day with a special Groundhog themed performance by the Surrey Dance Company and Lou Jack’s prediction! Will we have 6 more weeks of winter, or an early spring?
Groundhog Day is back for another day not to be missed. The event takes place on Saturday, January 28th from 10am-12pm. Come in your pajamas and bring the whole family out for a morning filled with free activities, treats, pancakes, and entertainment.
See you there! And take a look back at Groundhog Day 2016!
Ginalina is a Juno nominated and bilingual folk singer-songwriter for children and families. She is passionate about finding beauty in the ordinary moments and connecting people, one fun song at a time. Her music and videos can be found on CBC Kids’ Radio stream and Knowledge Network Television.
Her music is energetic and fun, sweet and sentimental, with an array of bluegrass, country, zydeco, modern folk, and west coast styles. Ginalina’s live shows are playful and musically entertaining and engaging, and her catchy songs and actions get children and adults of all ages laughing, roaring, singing, jumping, and clapping! For more info, visit www.ginalina.com.
About Surrey Dance Company
The Surrey Dance Company was originally assembled as a partnership between the City of Surrey and the Arts Council of Surrey as the “Surrey Celebration Dance Team”.
Beginning its artistic journey in celebration of the 2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES at Holland Park, The SCDT has since performed for hundreds of audiences across BC.
Each unique dancer performs at a professional level in their chosen dance aesthetic. As artists in residence at the Thrive Dance Studio and Dance Xpressions, the organization is able to foster diversity in dance as a performing art-Bringing together the community and industry professionals in Surrey and across the lower mainland. For more info, visit http://www.surreydancecompany.com.
Merchant Shoutout: Community Thrift Store
For Donna Chubb, the Manager of Community Thrift Store, it has always been in her nature to give back. She credits her giving nature to her parents who were passionate about community. Through a combination of passion for volunteering and experience in retail management, Donna and the staff are responsible for the success and growth of the store. Store profits support the Surrey Hospice Society and the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society.
Newton plays a large role in both the business and Donna’s life. Newton is Community Thrift Store’s only location and is where they have thrived for over 11 years. Donna believes there is a need in Newton for this type of store specializing in quality and affordable thrift goods. Also, Donna connects to Newton at a personal level as her grandparents lived in Newton and her mother grew up here. Newton continues to be a part of her life.
The Community Thrift Store prides themselves on their “consignment quality” products which is evident in the Boutique Section. They look for items that are good quality and items in nearly every category can be found in the store. As a result, this allows them to stay competitive with other thrift stores in the area while simultaneously offering affordable pricing.
Donna attributes much of the business’s growth to her employees and volunteers who consistently provide excellent customer service. The store’s small size allows them to build relationships with customers, knowing many on a first-name basis. Donna’s staff and volunteers are “caring, honest and fun people who enjoy giving back.” These are only some of the qualities that she believes a volunteer requires and this is why the Community Thrift Store has a diverse group of volunteers from the ages of 16-86. As a result, they have jobs for everyone regardless of their physical or mental abilities, as Donna states, “Volunteers are the greatest asset”.
Contributing to the local community is a huge part of the Community Thrift Store. In addition to supporting the Surrey Hospice Society and the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society, they also help community members. They offer free items for the homeless providing them with a safe place free of judgement. And community agencies can find practicum placements for clients and students can earn volunteer hours at the store.
Donna and the store have high hopes for Newton. They hope to see it become a vibrant location where people can feel comfortable shopping. Newton is a great location for the store and the community here supports them. Although they may open another location in the future, Donna maintains that this store will always be here in Newton.
The Community Thrift Store is holding their most anticipated event of the year, ‘Night on the Town’ on November 25th from 6-9 pm. The event is extremely popular with customers and their ninth one this year. Christmas decorations fill the store and the best holiday wear is on display for the event. Because Night on the Town has large ques, be sure to line up early! Donna, staff, and volunteers can’t wait to see you come by and have a look at this little gem of a store. You will be amazed at what they have.
Merchant Shout-Out is a monthly Newton BIA program highlighting one business per month within the Newton Town Centre. Tune in every month to hear a new business story! And visit our website for past stories.
Newton Community Walk – November 4
Every movement starts with a passionate few that drive change in their neighborhood. It is Newton’s time to take back its streets and galvanize the community by taking ownership of the future to ensure long term vibrancy and optimism for the area. The Newton BIA has adopted streets through the Surrey Adopt-A-Street program within the BIA boundary in part to take back the streets. Taking ownership of our streets within the town centre is a step towards the revitalization and success of Newton. This monthly walk is a positive event bringing the community together from residents, businesses, stakeholders, and government. Collaboration is vital to the success of any community.
Join us Friday, November 4 at McDonald’s located on 72 Ave near King George at 9 am and get involved in your community! We will be walking the streets, picking up garbage, and conversing about all things Newton. Join us for some community building and end off with treats provided by McDonald’s. Be the change in your community!
RSVP here: firstname.lastname@example.org
13565 72 Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 2N9
Friday, November 4
9 AM – 11 AM
Attire is based on weather. Closed toe shoes are recommended.
Spooktacular Newton Returns!
Spooktacular Newton returns this year for another spook filled day. Prepare for a chilling day filled with activities, trick-or-treating, and entertainment! In its inaugural year, Spooktacular was a great success with an attendance of 3000 trick-or-treaters! The event was received with great enthusiasm, so continuing the event was only natural. Newton lacks great marquee events and Spooktacular can fill that void as an event residents can look forward to annually.
Spooktacular will be taking place along 137th street in the Newton Town Centre with trick-or-treating along the street and many activities to stop by at along your way. Take a pic at the photo booth for a free souvenir of the event and definitely take advantage of the props to spookify your photo. Then take a stroll over to the crafts and games section for some fun activities provided by the Newton Community Centre. And right beside there is the spook theatre if you dare to be frightened, be sure not to spill all your popcorn when you’re jolted with fear! What’s an event without music? Not so good, so make sure to stop by the DJ booth for some Halloween tunes to shake to, and be aware of surprise thriller dance offs throughout the day! Sounds like enough? We think not! Take a ride on the haunted train and walk on over to the petting zoo! Hungry? Stop by one of the food trucks or by some of the many nearby restaurants for a bite. And before going home, take a walk through the pumpkin patch! Pick out a pumpkin, but be sure to choose one that will make the best Jack-o-Lantern, and drop a small donation off at the Surrey Food Bank tent!
Spooktacular Newton is back for another day not to be missed. The event takes place on Saturday, October 22nd from 12pm-4pm. Dress up in your finest costume and bring the whole family out for a day filled with many free activities, trick-or-treating, pumpkins, and entertainment. See you there!
– View All Events –