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Villeneuve joins Surrey First

In a move that’s been expected for some time, Coun. Judy Villeneuve has joined the mayor’s political coalition.It’s a coup for Mayor Dianne Watts’ fledgling Surrey First, which has succeeded where other parties have not.

The Surrey Electors Team, which dominated council for years, attempted several times to enlist Villeneuve, but each time she declined.

Villeneuve, a city councillor since 1988, is one of the most electable members on council, placing at or near the top of the polls in previous elections.

Traditionally, she has run with NDP-aligned Surrey Civic Electors. In the last few elections was an independent.

She has been a strong voice for the homeless, affordable housing and city hall staffing shortages.

Villeneuve said Monday the move to Surrey First feels like a natural transition.

“Really, this has been my best term and most productive term on council,” Villeneuve said. “(The mayor) has given me a lot of latitude to accomplish some of the things I wanted to accomplish, like the homelessness and housing foundation, re-establishing a social planning committee, a lot of the things I’m passionate about.”

Villeneuve checked with her main campaign supporters and all of them were behind her on the move.

Coun. Bob Bose, who had been her running mate for several years, said he’s very disappointed.

“I don’t understand why she’s running with them,” Bose said Monday. “I think she was stronger as an independent.”

The move gives Watts a six-to-three majority on council, as Villeneuve joins Couns. Linda Hepner, Barbara Steele, Mary Martin and Tom Gill.

Watts said Monday the impetus for bringing on Villeneuve was a “mutual respect” between the veteran councillor and the rest of council.

Opposition councillors now include Surrey Civic Coalition’s Bose, and Couns. Marvin Hunt and Judy Higginbotham from SET.

[via The Surrey Leader]