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Hunt accepts Watts' Surrey First invitation

Coun. Marvin Hunt - File photo
Coun. Marvin Hunt
— image credit: File photo

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ majority slate on council has added Coun. Marvin Hunt to its fold.

Hunt confirmed Monday morning that he will be joining Watts’ Surrey First coalition – leaving Bob Bose as the sole council member not a part of Surrey First.

“You (are) the first one that I’ve talked to about it,” Hunt told Black Press. “The answer is yes.”

Hunt says he made the decision about two weeks ago, and characterizes it as formalizing the working relationship that already exists with his friends.

He said it’s much like the former ruling party, the Surrey Electors Team (SET), except for the presence of left-leaning councillors such as Judy Villeneuve and Barinder Rasode, who have been able to voice their opinions freely.

Watts had confirmed Friday that she’d had “conversations” with the longtime Surrey councillor regarding joining her coalition.

Watts would not, however, say if Hunt had accepted the offer, noting Hunt himself should be part of any such announcement.

“I have had those conversations with him. At this point, he needs to be present in the conversation,” she said. “Yes, the invitation has been extended.”

Fellow Coun. Linda Hepner said at the time that she believed the offer was accepted, but referred questions to Watts.

Bose, a member of the Surrey Civic Coalition, said Friday he had not yet heard that Hunt joined Watts’ group. But he said it wouldn’t come as a surprise, nor would it change anything as far as what is already happening in city hall.

“It secures his position as part of the inner circle,” Bose said.

“Marvin votes consistently with them, he holds the same positions on development issues, rarely opposes any development, certainly seems to be in the camp that supports ‘development at any cost.’

“He’s been a defacto member of the Surrey First team since the beginning. If it’s untrue, it won’t make any difference to the balance on council, and on issue after issue. There’s one dissenting voice, and that’s mine.”

Bose noted that with November’s municipal election looming, the SCC is also preparing, readying to move forward with nominations for council and school board. He, too, plans to seek the SCC’s support – “if there’s any doubt about that in the minds of anybody.”

“To me, it’s important that we have some other voices on council, besides the mayor’s team,” Bose said.

(Last month, two of three SCC school trustees – Laurie Larsen and Terry Allen – left the slate to join free-enterprise members of the board to form a coalition called Surrey Education First. SCC trustee Ijaz Catha was invited to join the group and declined, and board chair Laurae McNally remains an independent.)

Watts said Hunt would “make an excellent addition to the (Surrey First) team.”

The father of six first ran for a school board seat in 1983, then joined council in 1987 with the Surrey NPA. By 1990, he sat with SET, where he remained until the party folded in 2008, when he was elected as an independent.

When Watts won the mayor’s chair in 2005, Hunt noted after a raucous inauguration meeting that her hold on council wouldn’t last.

However, he said this week that he is certainly gratified with Watts’ ability to build a team on council.

–with files from Tracy Holmes

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