Linda Hepner has been elected mayor of British Columbia's second-largest city succeeding her long-time political ally Dianne Watts, a highly popular mayor for the last decade.
"Oh, what a night... thank you, Surrey, so much," an exuberant Ms. Hepner told a packed rally of supporters in a bar.
"Surrey, B.C has spoken. We are not going back. We are going forward," she said. "I am so looking forward to the next four years."
Ms. Hepner will have a strong hand on council. Her Surrey First party took all eight seats.
She told reporters she will be sworn in on December 8.
The mayor-elect said she thought her message about the city being at a crossroads where growth might be at risk appeared to resonate with voters.
Ms. Hepner said she feels very comfortable filling the shoes of the popular Ms. Watts, who introduced her when she appeared for a brief victory speech before a raucous crowd.
"The legacy of Dianne Watts is strong but it takes a team to make a legacy and I was part of that team," she said.
Ms. Hepner said her immediate priorities include meeting with the city manager to work on the paperwork for Surrey to get 147 more RCMP officers – a campaign pledge she made to a city that has been troubled by a surge of crime in the past year.
Ms. Hepner also campaigned on continuing the policies that have seen Surrey through massive growth in the last decade. The city of about half a million people southeast of Vancouver is growing at a rate of about 1,000 people a month and is expected to exceed Vancouver in population in three decades.
Like other mayoral candidates in this election, Ms. Hepner promised a hard line on fighting crime – a key concern for voters after such incidents as last December's fatal assault on a woman awaiting her son at a hockey arena and the recent murder of a 17-year-old girl walking home one night. Suspects have been charged in both cases. All of the candidates promised to boost in the number of Mounties for the city.
Ms. Hepner's win Saturday night means she now has the top political job in a city where she spent about 20 years as a civil servant, becoming economic-development manager before she was elected to city council in 2005.
Ms. Hepner won over a field of six other mayoral rivals of which two were considered her most serious rivals.
Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum was attempting a political comeback a decade after voters ousted him from office.
And city councillor Barinder Rasode was seeking the mayoralty after breaking away from Surrey First, arguing the party was not effectively responding to community concerns about crime. Ms. Rasode was first elected to council under the Surrey First banner in 2008. Had Ms. Rasode won, she would have been Surrey's first Sikh mayor.