Dianne Watts has announced that she will not run for a fourth term as the Mayor of B.C.’s second largest city.
The Surrey Mayor made the surprise announcement during today’s grand opening of the $97 million Surrey City Hall.
Watts has not announced her future plans, although there are rumours that she will shift gears into federal politics by running as an Conservative MP in a Surrey riding.
She was first elected as Mayor in 2005, defeating incumbent Mayor Doug McCallum. During her first campaign, she pledged to fight against City Hall’s culture of control and conflict under the watch of McCallum and promised to bring economic activity to the city while fighting drug use, gang activity and crime.
In 2008, she dropped her status as an independent and created “Surrey First” – a political party that now dominates Surrey City Council.
Her legacy as Surrey’s Mayor might be best associated with her goal of fostering a thriving downtown area in the neighbourhood of Whalley. This includes the new City Hall, recently completed central public library, and 3 Civic Plaza – a residential, office and hotel tower. She was also a major advocate for more transit improvements in Surrey and proposed a vision to bring light rail to the city.
More recently, she has been criticized for her inaction with tackling crime in Surrey, particularly after the fatal attack on hockey mom Julie Paskall outside Newton Arena. Paskall’s death marked Surrey’s 25th homicide for 2013 – a three-year high for the city.
Under her tenure, Surrey had lower per capita spending on policing compared to other local municipalities.
Watts will serve the remainder of her term as Mayor. There is some speculation that City Councillor Barinder Rasode, who left Surrey First last week over allegations of hostility from Watts and other City Councillors, will run for Mayor.
Featured Image: Kevin Sauvé / The Pembina Institute