Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner will not seek re-election
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2018 7:28PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 11, 2018 1:38PM PDT
Linda Hepner will not seek re-election to Surrey's top job in the fall, the current mayor announced Tuesday.
After four years leading B.C.'s fastest-growing city, nine years as a councillor and two decades as a senior staffer, Hepner said she will step down at the end of her term.
"During my time with Surrey, the city has evolved from a modest suburb into the region’s second metropolitan centre and a globally recognized leading edge city," she said.
"I am very proud to have contributed to this transformation, but there will always be more to do, more to achieve and, therefore, there is never an ideal time to leave."
She said the choice was difficult to make, but ultimately, she's deciding to dedicate more time to family and friends. On Wednesday morning, she said concerns for her health also factored into her decision.
She said that two months ago she intended to run again, but in the time since she'd had some issues that required biopsy.
"While they turned out to be not important at all, it really gave me pause and I really just thought, 'What is it that I need for the rest of my life?'" she said at a news conference.
"It was the catalyst for the kind of deep soul searching that I had to do over the last couple of months."
She added that she will turn 70 in May, and that she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.
And while some speculated her decision was due to pressure within the party, Hepner denied that there is any truth to the rumours of discord among members of Surrey First.
"I've got great team players… I don't think you could find a better group of independent thinkers that have all coalesced to do the best that is for the City of Surrey," she said.
She thanked city staff and the citizens of Surrey for their work, support and trust.
"It has been an honour and privilege to serve you and the City of Surrey," she said.
When Hepner made the announcement, some wondered whether former mayor Dianne Watts would throw her hat in the ring. Watts served as mayor from 2005 to 2014 but did not seek re-election, choosing instead to vie for the South Surrey-White Rock seat in the House of Commons under the federal Conservatives.
She then resigned as an MP in September 2017 to seek leadership of B.C.'s Liberal Party, a race which she led until the fifth ballot when Andrew Wilkinson took the party's reins.
But on Wednesday, Watts told CTV News she does not intend to run again, and plans to find work in the private sector. Councillors Tom Gill and Mike Starchuk say they've not ruled out running for mayor.
Bruce Hayne and Vera LeFranc said they were also considering a mayoral run, and Dave Woods said he was looking at a number of options.
Hepner is the latest in a line of Lower Mainland mayors who've announced they will not seek re-election.
In January, Vancouver's Gregor Robertson announced he'd be stepping down after serving three terms in office.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Langley Mayor Ted Schaffer have all said this term will be their last.
North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton and the City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto will also be stepping down before the fall election.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber
Former #Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has told me she does not intend to run again - plans to work in private sector. Councillors Tom Gill and Mike Starchuk not ruling out running @CTVVancouver https://t.co/t8BaHQ09Ob— Maria Weisgarber (@ctv_mariaw) April 11, 2018