Succeeding Dianne Watts as the Mayor of City of Surrey, a confident Linda Hepner is building strategies that will expand and cement the potentials of the second largest city in BC. As the 36th Mayor for Surrey, Hepner comes with nine years of experience at City Council and has dedicated over 20 years serving the City of Surrey. Defeating her main challengers Doug McCallum (Safe Surrey Coalition) and Barinder Rasode (One Surrey) in the Surrey Municipal elections held on November 15, Hepner secured a fourth term for Surrey First and pronounced Watts' successful three terms that many say is a major factor contributing to her victory. In her new role as Mayor, Hepner has set the Sustainable Transportation of Surrey as her top agenda with focus on other vital challenges within the City such as preventing crime. She shares her vision for the City of Surrey and tells us more about the challenges that lie ahead.
Did you expect victory in the 2014 Surrey municipal elections? Why do you think people opted for another term with Surrey First?
We went into the campaign with a strong Surrey First team with a proven track record of economic growth and sound leadership. Surrey-First connected with residents on a range of issues that affect our city to ensure a well-rounded platform. We chose to highlight all the ways in which our city continue to grow and prosper, and I think voters saw that we were committed to advancing the city.
What is the top priority on your agenda for the City of Surrey right now?
Sustainable Transportation for Surrey (through LRT) has been and will remain my top priority moving forward, and that starts with a “yes” vote in the Transportation Referendum this Spring.
You have pledged to establish a 'cultural corridor' in Surrey. Why do you think this is an important step in the development of Surrey?
Arts and Culture play important roles in all municipalities, and proximity to the heartbeat of any city is key for sustainability and synergy. As we continue to develop the Town Centres and Innovation Boulevard, King George has undeniably become a main artery for socioeconomic spinoff, and consequently the ideal stretch for the cultural corridor.
How will a specialized community court in Surrey help individuals with mental health issues or addictions?
The goal is to help reintegrate offenders into positive roles in society by providing a specialized and comprehensive services network. This would mean having timely access to health, mental health and family services to those offenders being addressed by the Court.
In your opinion, what was the biggest accomplishment for Surrey under Dianne Watts' term as Mayor?
Amongst many accomplishments, I believe the infrastructure projects implemented under the Build Surrey Program will remain Mayor Watts’ greatest achievement.
Your critics are questioning the completion of the light-rail transit scheduled for 2018. How confident are you about the success of
Surrey needs light rapid transit, plain and simple. I am confident this project will go forth as planned, and my office is focused on securing a yes vote in the Transportation Referendum to put the wheels in motion.
Will the addition of 147 police officers combat the rate of criminal activities in the City of Surrey? Are there any other plans on board?
Absolutely. Policing is more complicated today than ever before, and the additional officers represent much more than just numbers and ratios. What transpires behind the scenes is just as important as what happens at the scene, and we are committed to addressing crime from all angles to ensure safe, sustainable communities for future generations.
What will be your biggest challenge?
Championing a positive vote in the Spring Transportation Referendum to ensure Surrey receives our fair share of transit investment within the region.
How will your approach be different from that of Dianne Watts?
Having worked within the City of Surrey before entering the political realm, I pride myself on collaborating with City Staff and external parties to achieve what is best for Surrey.
What is your message to the people of Surrey in your new role as Mayor?
If something can be improved, and you have a solution as to how, I want to hear about it.