Another city councillor has defected from Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition.
Brenda Locke made the announcement on Thursday, saying that too many decisions are made in the mayor’s office and behind closed doors.
LISTEN: Coun. Brenda Locke explains her decision to quit the Safe Surrey Coalition
“I was elected by the people of Surrey to speak up for them and advocate for their interests, but it has become impossible to do as part of Safe Surrey,” said Locke in a statement.
“I ran as part of a coalition, but it’s become obvious that Mayor McCallum has a my-way-or-the-highway approach to governing.”
WATCH: Tensions boil over at Surrey council meeting
McCallum responded to Locke’s departure Thursday morning.
“She’s going to have to explain to those people that voted for her her change of position,” said the mayor.
“We in the Safe Surrey Coalition, along with our council members are going to continue on with our agenda that we promised the residents of Surrey that we would do if elected.”
Locke said Surrey’s council was becoming “dysfunctional” and cited conflict over McCallum’s approach to transitioning Surrey from the RCMP to a municipal police force as a key driver of her decision.
She said that when she warned that the staffing levels described in the recent Surrey policing transition report would result in too few officers for Sophie’s Place — an organization that provides services to child victims of abuse — the mayor accused her of fearmongering.
Locke said she was seeking a legal opinion about whether McCallum’s remarks were defamatory.
“During the campaign, I was under the impression that elected councillors would be involved in the development of the Surrey policing plan. As with many other issues, this was not the reality after the election,” said Locke.
WATCH (Jan. 19, 2019): Sitdown with Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum
Locke is the second councillor to quit the coalition to sit as an independent after Steven Pettigrew pulled the plug in May, also citing, in part, public consultation on the transition to a municipal police force.
She was elected to council with more votes than any other candidate in the 2018 election.
McCallum’s slate won seven of the city’s eight council seats in that election.
Locke’s decision now leaves the council with five members of the Safe Surrey Coalition, two independents and Linda Annis, who was the sole member of the Surrey First slate elected last fall.
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