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Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode proud to be “South Asian” first, then “Canadian”

Q & A: Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode discusses upcoming campaign trail

Published: September 20, 2014

Barinder Rasode announces her official bid for Surrey Mayor Saturday at SFU’s Grand Hall in Surrey, B.C. Kim Stallknecht/PNG


After months of speculation, Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode finally confirmed her bid for mayor in the upcoming election at a crowded celebration at SFU Surrey’s Grand Hall Saturday afternoon. While she is yet to release her official platform, Vancouver Desi caught up with the now official mayoral candidate to find out about the upcoming campaign trail.

1. Why should people vote for you?

I love Surrey, and I am passionate about making our city a better place to live and work. I’m prepared to make the tough decisions and take action to fix some of the long-standing issues in Surrey. We have made a lot of progress, but we have also learned some valuable lessons.

We need to make public safety our number one priority –- if we don’t fix Surrey’s crime problem, then all of the progress that we have made is in jeopardy.

We need to get people and goods moving across our city, because right now our economy is literally stuck in traffic. One hundred thousand people will move to Surrey over the next ten years, so we have to take action now to fix our transit and transportation issues, and start managing our growth in a responsible way.

And, to accomplish these goals, we have to control spending at City Hall, because waste and abuse of tax dollars will cripple our city. But, I believe that if we get our priorities straight and take decisive action, we will build a safe and prosperous city.

2. What does Barinder’s Surrey look like?

My Surrey is one where each and every citizen feels safe in their homes, streets and neighbourhoods. But it is much more. Once we fix Surrey’s crime problem, we will be able to attract new jobs and investment, and create a thriving economy. I want to build a city where every citizen has a voice in our future and there is no inside track for friends and insiders. I envision Surrey as a cultural capital where arts and business can flourish side by side. And I envision a city where gridlock is forcefully addressed by improvements to transportation and transit.

To accomplish this we will have to demonstrate to senior levels of government that our fiscal house is in order so that they have the confidence to partner with us, knowing that taxpayers hard-earned dollars are being treated with the respect that they deserve.

3. What’s your vision for one of Canada’s fastest growing cities?

Quite frankly, the city hasn’t been doing a good enough job at managing our growth, and our community deserves better. Investments in public safety and transportation have not kept up with our population growth, and our neighbourhoods and businesses are suffering. We also need more thoughtful planning that respects the character of our neighbourhoods and protects our valuable natural spaces. The City has become complacent in many ways and hasn’t listened to the community to ensure their needs are being met.

And, I strongly believe the community deserves a voice, and they need to be brought into the decision-making process at City Hall — we all have a stake and a role to play. Businesses needs certainty and citizens need confidence that decisions are being made for the right reasons.

4. What do you see as the most important issues for Surrey residents and voters?

Every day people tell me they don’t feel safe.  And, if you don’t feel safe in your home or walking to the corner story, then nothing else matters. Violent crime continues to shake our neighbourhoods, and skyrocketing property crime is having a significant impact on the livelihood of our businesses and residents. So, we need to stop talking about the issues and take action, because the problems have gone on for long enough.

5. What needs to be done about crime?

There are a number of things that need to be done to address crime. First, the leadership of this city must make addressing crime the number one priority. We must both increase the number of police officers as a whole and the number of police officers on the street at any given time. We must treat every call to the police as a priority and I think Delta offers an example that should be looked at. We must have minimum response times and we must involve the public in monitoring the public safety of public safety initiatives. You will see a comprehensive plan when my platform is released, which will be built in collaboration with law enforcement professionals.

6. What issues are top of mind for you?

I think, as a mother, I really want to help build a city that is safe and filled with opportunities for my children. Surrey has a very young population –- there are about 200,000 people in the city under the age of 30, which is almost the entire population of Burnaby. We need to build a city they feel connected to and are proud of, one where they can build a successful life.

7. Do you feel you have the needed relationships at the provincial and federal levels to achieve what you hope to?

I have built strong relationships with senior levels of government and the government organizations across the region. These partnerships will be critical moving forward, as we implement new solutions to improve public safety — including new addictions and mental health resources –- as well as social housing, and transportation. One of the keys to growing these relationships is to give other levels of government the confidence that we have our own fiscal house is in order and that scarce dollars are invested with the confidence that they will be handled responsibly.

8. So you win, how do you bridge the gap with Surrey first councillors who get elected?

I have a strong track record of working collaboratively with all groups and people in our city, and that will not change after November 15. Whether we are talking about different neighbourhoods, different cultures or different partisan backgrounds, I work collaboratively and seek ideas from a variety of people. I think that is the key to building a successful team environment and a successful city. I view each and every citizen of Surrey as a member of my team, and I don’t base my decisions on party politics or backroom deals.

9. If elected, you’ll be North America’s first female South Asian mayor –- what would this mean for you and how would you carry that title?

I have always shied away from titles. But, I see myself as a mother, a proud South Asian, a proud British Columbian, and a proud Canadian. If this is a source of pride and inspiration for others, I think that it would be great, but I am one hundred per cent focused on making Surrey the very best that it can be for the entire community.  I want to make sure that each and every citizen feels safe, has a voice, and is given the opportunity to build a healthy, successful life in Surrey.

10. If elected, how will you stay engaged with residents?

I think residents and business in Surrey deserve public engagement that is open, accessible and inclusive.  We need to engage people about city building and their vision for Surrey. And, we can no longer expect residents to come to us — we need to go to the places and spaces where the community congregates, and engage people on their own terms, their own schedule.  We need to reach out to the silent majority, and use technology and innovative ways to communicate to people in an interesting and relevant manner.

I believe that we all have a stake and a role to play, and we need community input to shape the future of our city, and ensure local needs are being met. In order to create a true partnership between the City and the people we serve, we need early, ongoing and continuous dialogue, and the conversations need to be driven by the community.  Ultimately, we need to reinvent how we do business and transform stakeholders into the co-creators of our city.

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