Surrey veteran Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal is running for mayor under a new slate called United Surrey.
He made good Monday on a not-so-well kept secret to run, making him the fourth mayoral candidate to declare after incumbent Doug McCallum (Safe Surrey Coalition), Brenda Locke (Surrey Connect) and his frequent political rival in federal politics Jinny Sims (Surrey Forward).
Dhaliwal introduced his team members also seeking a council seat in the Oct. 15 election: Julie Tapley, former Surrey NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu, Becky Zhou and Jeff Bridge.
“An excellent talented team,” he said. “The other four candidates will be announced over the summer.”
The veteran Surrey Liberal MP said he decided to entered the civic political arena “after watching the endless division over the past four years.
“I felt that my problem-solving and cooperative approach could make a positive difference,” he said. “The city council right now is dysfunctional, and we have a dynamic city and we have a very bright future only we can achieve working together.
“We agreed on this name (United Surrey) because as we have talked with residents it became clear they want change at the city hall and we totally believe that we are stronger together and keeping that in mind, United Surrey is the way to go.”
The MP said he can continue his responsibilities as an MP, but if he is elected mayor “then I will resign.”
Dhaliwal said that if any dirt is thrown during the election campaign, it won’t be coming from him.
“Let the other team play dirty, but as my record speaks very clearly I have always, always run on a positive record,” he said. “We want to set up the example to young people that yes, we can have political differences, we can have difference of opinions, but certainly we can work together to make a difference in people’s lives. No time for dirty politics.”
The long-time Panorama resident said United Surrey’s platform will be released in coming weeks. Meantime, his slate is driven by four commitments it intends to “immediately” implement if elected: 1. Freezing city taxes for one year. 2. Rolling back the city parcel tax from $300 to $100 during the first term. 3. Get more rental units on the market by reducing the time it takes for approval on new projects. The aim is to have the shortest development permit approval times in Metro Vancouver within two years. 4. Invest “more aggressively” in parks and recreation. This would include the “largest” expansion of fields and parks in Surrey’s history.
“We have heard from the residents and they want to make sure the children has positive alternatives and the chance to realize their potential,” Dhaliwal said.
Where does he land on the policing transition? “This issue has become a political football,” he noted. “The citizens were not provided with a full and transparent accounting of the cost and implementation challenges at the outset by the council.
“It is our job to ensure that Surrey residents feel safe and have trust and confidence in the police and we commit to provide a fully transparent look at where the transition and our leaders must deal with the reality how far we have come with the transition, the reality is at this point, both the RCMP and the Surrey force will be serving our citizens together until the transition is complete and we must look at the ways we can maximize the contribution of both forces,” Dhaliwal told the Now-Leader. “Safety of our community is ultimately the only thing that matters.”
“The reality is, we have come a long way for this transition process.”
Dhaliwal figures other campaign issues beside public safety will be affordability, infrastructure and public transporation. Having been in federal politics for five terms, he said, has honed his skills as a “consensus builder.
“I have contacts up there, I know who to call, and pick up the phone, and similarly on the provincial level. I have previously worked with different political spectrums cooperatively and that is what I personally feel that’s my strength that will help,” Dhaliwal said. “Accessibility is a key. People are looking for a mayor and council that works for every citizen, not only a few.”
Dhaliwal served as Liberal MP for Newton-North Delta from 2006 to 2011 and MP for Surrey-Newton from 2015 to the present. He was re-elected in the 2021 federal election in Surrey-Newton with 19,721 votes (54 per cent).
Easily avenging his 2011 election loss to New Democrat incumbent Jinny Sims in the old riding of Newton-North Delta in 2015, much as Dhaliwal was a casualty of the NDP’s so-called “orange crush” in 2011, Sims was a casualty of the Liberal’s so-called “red tide” in 2015.
Dhaliwal received 24,869 votes to Sims’ 11,604. Conservative candidate Harpreet Singh placed third with 6,976 votes and Green candidate Pamela Sangha came in fourth with 975 votes. Voter turnout was 68.56 per cent. Of 64,798 eligible voters, 44,424 voted.
Dhaliwal unsuccessfully ran for a council seat in 1999 with the now defunct Surrey Electors Team, alongside SET mayoral candidate Doug McCallum.