Alternative slate sprouts

A political force is forming to tackle the Surrey Electors Team (SET)-dominated council in the next civic election.

Cloverdale’s Jim McMurtry says he’s spoken to several people regarding the formation of an opposition slate for the municipal campaign in 2008.

“I’ve talked to people who are considering a sort of a middle-of-the-road alternative,” said McMurtry, who is currently mulling a nomination run for the federal Liberals in South Surrey-White Rock-Langley.

While he’s focused on the federal front, McMurtry said Tuesday there’s a groundswell of people lining up for a civic seat.

He said people he’s talked to aren’t comfortable with SET or the left-leaning Surrey Civic Coalition (SCC), backed mostly by labour groups.

A new centrist slate is inevitable, he said.

“It’s going to happen, there will be a third alternative,” McMurtry said. “There are a lot of credible candidates who are already manoeuvring.”

The group is in the midst of recruiting a team. Some of the people considered, but not yet approached, are Barinder Rasode, Jim King and Rosemary Zelinka, a retired planner who came within 3,000 votes of being elected in 2005.

McMurtry said he would also consider joining the team.

“I am manoeuvring in the sense that I’ve worked very hard in the community and if an opportunity were to arise, I would seize it,” McMurtry said.

“What we’re hoping to do, what a lot of people are hoping to do, whether I’m part of the slate or not, is offer a middle-of-the-road alternative.”

Observers believe a second right-of-centre slate could split the pro-business vote, giving SCC a better chance to win some seats on council.

Asked if he is planning a run for the mayor’s chair, McMurtry said he’d be happy to serve in whatever role the new party deemed fit.

“I’d be delighted to serve in any capacity – whether that’s mayor, councillor or paper boy,” McMurtry said.

SET president Scott Nicoll said Thursday that anyone who has watched voting patterns closely in the last year would see the party is centrist, both fiscally conservative and socially progressive.

He welcomes the opposition saying it’s good for democracy.

The civic election will be held in fall 2008.

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