Two of the leading candidates to become Surrey's next mayor entered the race as political lone wolves, but have since gathered packs around them.
Barinder Rasode announced her One Surrey team on Friday – naming seven candidates who are running alongside her. They will be pushing a platform on public safety, transportation and municipal spending ahead of voting day, Nov. 15.
Ms. Rasode had been a member of the Surrey First party that has a majority on council. She left the party, citing dissatisfaction about its political approach, and now sits as an Independent councillor.
Doug McCallum, who is seeking to become mayor again after voters ended his nine-year run in the 2005 election, also has his own team. Last month, Mr. McCallum introduced the Safe Surrey Coalition of four would-be councillors running as Independents, who would rally around him if they are elected.
British Columbia's second-largest city has eight council seats for a population of half a million that is growing by about 1,000 a month.
Surrey First's mayoral candidate is Councillor Linda Hepner, supported by Mayor Dianne Watts, who created the organization but is not seeking re-election after nine years in office. Surrey First has its own team of incumbents and new candidates, including Bruce Hayne, Barbara Steele and Judy Villeneuve.
But unlike Ms. Hepner, Ms. Rasode and Mr. McCallum are counting on new teams of political rookies.
Ms. Rasode's slate includes Kal Dosanjh, a detective for the Vancouver Police Department who lives in Surrey. Mr. Dosanjh is on a leave of absence from the VPD, according to Surrey Now. Merv Bayda, a 35-year RCMP veteran who now oversees the Surrey RCMP's auxiliary constable program, is also on board, as is Mike Bose, the nephew of former mayor Bob Bose, who held the job from 1988 to 1996, and Brian Young, president of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Rasode said in an interview that previous Surrey mayors, including Mr. Bose and Ms. Watts, have governed, at times, without slate support.
She said the seven candidates had been planning to run as Independents, but decided to form a team for the election.
Mr. McCallum said his team will vote independently on council as issues come up. "We're not going to caucus. It's a co-op, certainly not a slate," he said in an interview.
His coalition members include small-business owner Rina Gill and journalist Beau Simpson. All are united around a public-safety platform that includes minimum thresholds for RCMP service levels, hiring 95 new Mounties by 2015 and investing $4-million a year over four years in a crime-prevention strategy.
Mr. McCallum, formerly a member of the Surrey Electors Team, said elected allies would help him advance his political agenda because "a mayor only has one vote."
Patrick Smith, a political scientist in the urban studies department of Simon Fraser University, says the political teams under common banners will make it easier for voters choosing from a long list of mayoral and council prospects.
"You've got 20 and 30 names on a ballot, maybe more in Surrey. For the ordinary voter, it's pretty difficult to actually know who the hell these people are. They will know some of them. Someone like McCallum has a long history in the community," he said.
"Very few people in Surrey are going to know who the people are. What [a team] does is that if they know McCallum and like McCallum and he has a team … and they all have the same [team] name, it's a shorthand to go down the rest of the names and pluck them off."
On Friday, a new Surrey grouping was announced. Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Brenda Locke is running for council with realtor Stephen Gammer under the TeamSurrey banner. They are not running a mayoral candidate.
In an interview, Mr. Gammer said the plan is to try to offer a perspective outside the parties that have lately dominated Surrey politics.
"We think the people of Surrey need someone to ask the tough questions," Mr. Gammer said.