Doug McCallum says he will be a calmer, wiser, more confident mayor of Surrey if voters in B.C.'s second-largest city elect him this fall to the job he was voted out of in 2005.
On Monday, Mr. McCallum officially threw a twist into a race many expected would be dominated by two council members vying for the job of leading a city southeast of Vancouver that is growing by about 1,000 new residents a month.
"I've had, in the last little while, this overwhelming calmness come to me," the 70-year-old consultant said in an interview following an official announcement at Surrey's former City Hall, which has been replaced by a slick, $100-million complex Mr. McCallum says was a waste of money.
The new City Hall is part of a city-centre complex for Surrey that has been a hallmark of outgoing Mayor Dianne Watts, who won the mayoralty over Mr. McCallum in 2005, ending his nine-year run. She has ruled out another bid for mayor.
But Mr. McCallum cast himself Monday as ready to use his experience to better manage various Surrey files. He said he would get 95 more RCMP officers for Surrey in two years as opposed to the planned five years, pro-actively fighting crime in a city shaken by such incidents as a fatal attack on a hockey mom last December while she was parked at an arena. He said he would also better manage development, transit and other issues associated with Surrey growth.
"I get things done. No more studying things. No more analyzing," he told the news conference, also promising "zero foreign trips" in a subtle jab at Ms. Watts, who was criticized for costs around a trade mission to Israel last year.
He is proposing to negotiate with the province to bring in a ward system for Surrey. There would be four wards with two councillors each. Wards, Mr. McCallum said, would give voters more access to representatives better informed about issues in their area. In a 2004 plebecite, Vancouver voters rejected a ward system.
Mr. McCallum, once criticized by Ms. Watts as politically controlling, says he will be more agreeable when it comes to running the city.
"I have that fire in my belly, but there's a calmness that comes over me. I am a lot more co-operative in working with people," said Mr. McCallum, running solo without the Surrey Electors Team that he was a part of in his days as mayor.
Linda Hepner, a councillor from Ms. Watts's Surrey First party, is running for mayor. Barinder Rasode, a councillor who broke with Surrey First, has assembled a team for a mayoral run, but not yet officially declared.
Mr. McCallum said he has been thinking about a return to politics for some time, but talking to Surrey residents convinced him to run. He called a reporter's query about not being a "spring chicken" a "good question," noting even his family wondered if he was too old. In response, he said he had a passion to work on Surrey's problems.