A new political coalition is coming to Surrey City Hall, with an eye to increasing transparency and openness in local government, Pulse FM has learned.
Couns. Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial have created Surrey Connect, a coalition which aims to right the direction of government at city hall.
Surrey city hall hasn’t had an opposition party hasn’t had an opposition party or coalition in 15 years, and Surrey Connect sees that as a problem.
“When we look at other municipal governments, we see a combination of party, independent and coalition,” Hundial told Pulse FM Saturday. “We’ve had a one-party system for so long. This is a coalition.”
He said it’s quite possible to have diverse opinions and an effective and ethical government.
Hundial said the coalition will be built upon the “concept of ethical government, transparency and connecting with the community.”
Locke said she and Hundial were driven to run for local government was that there was a disconnection between the community and city hall.
“Residents didn’t feel they had a voice,” Locke said.
Despite her hopes in 2018, none of that changed.
“I am hugely disappointed in that,” Locke said in an interview with Pulse FM Saturday. “I had that conversation with the mayor prior to joining his team. I never honestly dreamed he would close ranks the way he did.”
She said it’s a huge concern for a city moving forward.
“We’ve lost the democratic process, when you see how council is conducted,” Locke said. “When you see everything is run out of the mayor’s office. When councillors like us have to FOI (use Freedom of Information applications) our own city to get information for due diligence for our fiduciary duty, there’s something seriously wrong.”
The impetus behind creating the coalition was an extremely heated public reaction at city hall on Dec. 16 when the budget was discussed.
“What made it (the creation of Surrey Connect) really necessary is this budget has become so divisive, and I think it was beyond time to give people hope that there is a future moving forward,” Locke said. “We’re not in a healthy place right now.”
As to where on the political spectrum this new coalition would fall, Locke said local government is not a place for party-aligned pigeon holing.
She describes herself as a “centrist” who is fiscally conservative but socially aware.
Opposition Surrey councillors Stephen Pettigrew and Linda Annis are aware of the new coalition, and have been welcomed to it, but they have made no commitment, Hundial said.
Surrey Connect will be reaching out to community organization and will be holding public engagement meetings going forward.
Locke and Hundial also say they will continue to hold the city’s feet to the fire on a day-by-day basis.
“We just want to have a good solid city hall that’s not encumbered by special interests,” Locke said.