11/15/2014 08:00 EST | Updated 01/15/2015 05:59 EST

Surrey voters go to the polls as B.C. civic election day arrives

Surrey voters head to the polls today in a civic election that will see the city's first new mayor elected since Dianne Watts took the role in 2005.

The three main challengers are the incumbent in 2005, Doug McCallum (Safe Surrey Coalition), Linda Hepner (Surrey First) and Barinder Rasode (One Surrey).

There are also four independent candidates in the race, John Edwards, Grant Rice, John Wolanski and Bajwa Vikram.

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The major issues in Surrey remain crime and transit. McCallum, Hepner and Rasode have all released platforms that commit to increasing the number of police officers on the streets, but differ on how many and what the policing priorities are.

What they say:

- McCallum promises to hire 95 new RCMP officers and "double street patrol."

- Linda Hepner promises to expand Surrey RCMP by 147 members, direct more officers to policing schools and "enable RCMP to adopt a neighbourhood policing model."

- Barinder Rasode promises "more police on our streets" especially in "high crime" neighbourhoods. Rasode also promises to implement a new force of "community safety officers."

The candidates also discussed policing needs at the CBC's mayoral debate on Nov. 4.

On transit, all three candidates have said they will support the TransLink funding referendum, a light rail system and more buses.

"In the absence of rail, we're going to have to get more buses. But my position is we will have rail in Surrey by 2018 and we'll be riding the rails," Hepner said.

"Surrey needs to be number one with more rapid buses, more B-Line buses, more bus routes and routes that actually make some sense for the residents who are using those routes," argued Rasode.

"The one thing that increases ridership on a bus is if you can have a trip on one seat, and in Surrey you're not able to."

McCallum — a former chair of TransLink— added that a lack of community buses in the city is hurting seniors. 

"The problem that has happened in the last nine years is the fact that the current council hasn't kept the pressure on TransLink to keep those buses coming into the fast-growing areas," he said.

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