Dianne Watts

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Dianne Watts
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts by Erin Loxam (2008).jpg
35th Mayor of Surrey
In office
2005–2014
Preceded by Doug McCallum
Personal details
Born October 30, 1958[1]
Nationality Canadian
Political party Surrey First
Spouse(s) Brian Watts
Children Elishea and Elora Watts
Residence Surrey, British Columbia
Profession businessperson

Dianne L. Watts is a Canadian politician who is the mayor of Surrey, British Columbia, the second-largest city in the province. She was elected in 2005 to this office as the city's first female mayor.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Watts was a student studying in Vancouver where she then married at the age of 20.[1] After a divorce, Watts travelled and worked in Australia and other countries in the 1980s.

Watts married Brian Watts, a member of an established Surrey family and who had connections with one-time Premier of British Columbia Rita Johnston. Watts worked as a credit manager and a materials consultant for an architecture firm during her 20s and early 30s, then was a stay-at-home mother with two daughters prior to being a campaign manager for new provincial MLA and family friend Bonnie McKinnon in 1991.[1] Watts later won a seat on city council in 1996 with Doug McCallum's Surrey Electors Team.

Municipal politics[edit]

Before becoming mayor she had served on the Surrey City Council since her election in 1996.[4]

She ran as an independent candidate, defeating incumbent Doug McCallum at the polls on November 19, 2005, who had been her political ally as recently as 2003.[5] When she announced her intent to challenge McCallum, she claimed that a "culture of control and conflict has developed at city hall under Doug McCallum" and promised "better co-operation between the city and senior governments to bring more social services into Surrey to deal with homelessness, drug use and crime".[6]

Her election affected regional politics as well, since she replaced McCallum on the board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District.[7]

Dianne Watts at Winterfest 2008

Mayor Watts created a political slate called "Surrey First" for the 2008 municipal elections. The slate was made up of current councillors and aspiring individuals from the community.[8] Surrey First is not an official party and its members are reportedly free to vote their consciences on land development and other contentious issues before City Hall. On November 15, 2008, Mayor Dianne Watts defeated her lone challenger for the mayor's chair by almost 43,000 votes and all six members of her Surrey First slate—Judy Villenneuve, Tom Gill, Barbara Steele, Linda Hepner, Mary Martin and newcomer Barinder Rasode—won seats on Surrey City Council.[9]

She has been called one of Surrey's most popular, influential and transformative mayors in the Metro Vancouver region.[10] She served a term as Chair of the Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation (the board which oversees TransLink). Watts was among the finalists for the 2010 World Mayor prize. She has also been touted as a possible future Premier of British Columbia.[3] Watts was ultimately selected as "the fourth-best mayor in the world, according to the 2010 World Mayor Prize."[11][12] This project, organized by the urban affairs think-tank The City Mayors Foundation, recognizes mayors who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities.

Mayor Watts was a driving force behind the controversial 2011 Surrey Regional Economic Summit, in which former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton were featured speakers.[13] Amnesty International, the Canadian Centre for International Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Lawyers Against the War all called on Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute Bush for the use of torture by U.S. forces.[14] Amnesty International stated it had provided the RCMP with more than 4,000 pages of documents[15] alleging that the former US president was engaged in war crimes, and called for his arrest. The human-rights group stated that it had submitted a memorandum to Canadian officials outlining why Bush was legally responsible for human-rights violations that took place between 2002 and 2009.[16] The summit was also expected to draw protests.[14] The protests in Surrey were relatively peaceful and brief and did not engage many Surrey residents.

This action did not prevent Dianne Watts' re-election to a third term as mayor of Surrey on November 19, 2011 with 80% of the vote. Her slate of Surrey First candidates won all seats on city council and even defeated Robert (Bob) Bose, her sole opponent on Surrey City Council.[17] This might testify to her personal popularity among Surrey voters who have bought into her vision of a modern Surrey with numerous modern multi-family residential townhome and condos, retail, commercial and light industrial developments as well as her attempt to bring more social services to her city. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia will also have their new 76,000 square metre LEED gold certified headquarters in Surrey Green Timbers Park, near Surrey Central City, by early 2013—with all the extra employment that this might entail.[18]

Future political life[edit]

At the April 2014 opening ceremony for the new City Hall, Watts announced that she would not seek re-election as mayor in the November 2014 municipal election. Media reports have included speculation that she might seek a future in provincial politics or in replacing Russ Hiebert who stepped down as federal Member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bula, Frances (1 Jan 2009). "Her Worship". Vancouver Magazine. Retrieved 20 April 2014. "Dianne Watts transformed herself from an ignored, bullied, and abused young woman into a highly effective and appealing mayor. She’s remaking the oft-abused city of Surrey in much the same way" 
  2. ^ canada.com
  3. ^ a b Hume, Mark (November 6, 2010). "Surrey mayor considers her next political move", The Globe and Mail, p. A8. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  4. ^ City of Surrey - Inside City Hall - Your Mayor and Council - Mayor Watts
  5. ^ CityTV | NEWS
  6. ^ SET co-founder moves on to back Watts for mayor, The Now Newspaper, October 10, 2005
  7. ^ Surrey voters will determine GVRD's future | Straight.com November 10, 2005
  8. ^ Barinder Rasode
  9. ^ Official City of Surrey November 2008 Election Results
  10. ^ Her Worship Vancouver Magazine, January 1, 2009
  11. ^ Watts named world's fourth-best mayor (in 2010) The Vancouver Sun, December 8, 2010
  12. ^ A Global Honour for Surrey Mayor The Metro, December 8, 2010
  13. ^ Presidents Clinton and Bush at 2011 Surrey Regional Economic Summit
  14. ^ a b Occupy Surrey protest to welcome George W. Bush to Canada
  15. ^ Canada urged to arrest George W. Bush on B.C. visit
  16. ^ http://www.straight.com/article-483851/vancouver/amnesty-international-calls-george-w-bushs-arrest-surrey-visit-looms
  17. ^ 2011 Surrey Election results
  18. ^ RCMP E Division Headquarters Relocation Project Fact Sheet
  19. ^ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/popular-surrey-mayor-dianne-watts-will-not-seek-fourth-term/article18283769/

External links[edit]