During the past three weeks, voters have had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Councillor candidates and what they stand for. The dialogues and debates provided forums for the voters to hear us. Surrey voters can now go to the polls and cast their votes for those who will keep the City moving in the right direction.
As a new Councillor candidate, I need to ensure that YOU, the voter, are aware of what YOU can count on, when you elect someone to the City of Surrey Council. I have made every effort to connect to as many of you as possible and will continue to do so right up to the close of polls this Saturday. And, if elected as Councillor for the great City of Surrey, will remain available to my constituents on an ongoing basis.
What Makes Mike Stand Out?
You could vote for someone who reads or hears about some of the issues we have in Surrey. Or you can vote for the person who has been dealing with the issues on a first-hand basis, for years.
You can vote for someone who believes changes may be required at City Hall. Or you can vote for someone who has worked with all of the Departments, and knows where improvement can be made.
You can vote for a person who wants to talk about solutions. Or you can vote for someone who has solutions that need to be moved through our Civic process.
We all agree that public safety is a top priority, but what I have heard, is we need to deal with the root problems and restore a sense of community. Having lived in the same location in Newton for the past 24 years, I can vouch for how well our cul-de-sac works, because we know our neighbours, and we watch out for each other.
The other issues that I have a direct working knowledge of, are those surrounding secondary suites and Surrey’s recovery houses. I am confident that Surrey First can improve the process in which we deal with secondary suite issues. Specifically, the matters of multiple illegal suites, safe and affordable living spaces, parking and additional demands for services for the unaccounted residents living in these illegal suites.
Recovery houses are also a hot topic and hiring more By-Law Officers is not the solution. We need to work with the Ministry of Health, the Fire Department and our existing By-Law Officers to ensure compliance with provincial and municipal regulations. We need to also ensure that those seeking recovery are provided a space that is safe and livable, so they can concentrate on their recovery and again becoming a productive member of our City.
A Team With Experience
To achieve these goals and to move forward, you need to have a team. More importantly, you need to have a team with experience.
With my 32 years as a firefighter, I assure you, experience is paramount in making decisions. Without experience, decisions made in the Fire Service could become disastrous. Experience in a team environment, through mentoring and education, produces the most efficient results. Surrey First has a proven track record and has a team with experienced Councillors as well as some new candidates who have experience in the City and want the opportunity to be mentored as they grow in their new roles as Councillors in the City.
Voting For Surrey First
On November 15th, you have the opportunity to vote for a better Surrey. It will be a daunting task when you look at the ballot and see three columns of names and parties to choose from. You will vote for one Mayor from a list of seven names. To fill eight Councillor positions, you will be presented with 35 choices!
Don’t be fooled by the names of those political slates that have chosen their names to mimic the “Surrey First” brand. I have put Surrey FIRST for the last 32 years as a firefighter, and now I’m asking you to vote for the Surrey First TEAM.
Keep Surrey FIRST as the best place in the world to raise a family.
Make Surrey the FIRST place to work and invest in.
Make Surrey the FIRST place to think of, when looking for world class sports facilities and arts and cultural events.
When you are at the polling station on November 15th, please remember to vote for Linda Hepner for Mayor, Mike Starchuk and the entire Surrey First Team for Surrey Council, and the Surrey First Education Team for Surrey School Trustees.
Thank you for your consideration!
My family moved from Vancouver to Surrey before I began school and settled into a small rancher on a gravel road in Newton. I attended public school at FD Sinclair, Bear Creek and Newton Elementary, before going to William Beagle Junior Secondary and Princess Margaret Senior Secondary. I attended a “temporary” campus of Douglas College that was located in the 9200 block of 140th Street, after leaving high school.
Athletics played a large part in my youth with time spent in community organizations as well as school athletics. I played some football with North Surrey Minor Football and baseball with Newton, Kennedy Surrey, North Delta and Whalley. A great deal of time was spent later on playing racquetball in the (then) two racquet clubs (Surrey Racquet Centre and Pacific Coast Racquet Centre) that were located in the City at the time. As well, tennis on the City’s courts and golf on the courses in Surrey.
When I lived at home on the West side of King George Highway, my neighbour, Ken Field, who lived across the street, was a Captain with the Surrey Fire Department and would often talk about his job and the satisfaction of serving the public. The talks became longer and more frequent as I was extremely interested in this profession. And – at the same time – it gave me the opportunity to “run into” his oldest daughter. Yes, the daughter that would eventually marry me and share our 32 year journey.
After moving out of the parent’s house, I moved to the Guildford area where I settled into my first apartment. At that time (September 1980), I began as a Paid on Call volunteer firefighter at the fire hall on the corner of 108th Avenue and 146th Street. That is where I got the “taste” of what it was like to serve the community. Unfortunately, by the time my pager would go off and I would leave the apartment, drive through a long and winding parking lot and travel to this fire hall, the fire trucks would be gone. Standbys, while they served a purpose, were not what I was looking for, so back to Newton, and closer to the fire hall, I went.
Mid May of 1982, I started my professional career with the Surrey Fire Department. I was twenty-three years old, full of energy, and had no idea where this path would lead me. A few months later, after finishing my training period, I married the “gal” across the street and we settled into a new location on the corner of 70A and 135th Street. A year later we would finally own our own house on the same street we both grew up on – 81st Avenue – one block off King George Highway.
Two kids started to run around that place and were enrolled in the same Elementary school we went to. The street had changed and was no longer the place to play ball hockey or bounce a ball. We moved to the east side of King George Highway where the kids would be able to play in a cul de sac and walk to their elementary and high schools.
Once we were settled in this new location, I was able to become more involved with the events of the Fire Fighters’ Association and with our children`s activities. They were both heavily involved with school sports and activities along with community sporting organizations. As they grew with their organizations, I grew with them. I participated on the Board of Directors in Kennedy Surrey Little League during a time where that league produced 3 national Little League championships. At the same time, I was the “stats guy” on one of the Surrey Storm girls’ fastball team, that also achieved national championship status.
While I was participating in the kid’s athletic endeavours, I began to build the relationships with the School Board, Parks and Recreation, and the local media to promote our events. At the same time, I began to get more involved as a firefighter in the community and began to develop relationships with other community organizations. I began to volunteer time with two charitable organizations that were dear to my heart. The Variety Club of BC and the newly created Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society.
I got involved with Variety Club prior to the creation of the Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society, which allowed me to bring ideas to both groups to make them both more influential and affective. I served on the Annual Variety Club Racquetball Tournament Committee for 18 years. We went from raising $10,000 over a two-day event to raising $35,000 in just one day. I cannot tell you how gratifying and rewarding that was.
During this time of my life, my now father in-law had been diagnosed with cancer, which he eventually beat. However, the issue of cancer and how it related to firefighters had become a focus in my life. I stepped up and took on another role within our Association, to look at the health and safety aspects of our firefighters. It wasn`t a question to me of WHY we were being diagnosed with cancer, it was a question of HOW could we prevent it?
That led me to new roles within the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Association which, in turn, provided further health and safety opportunities with the BC Professional Fire Fighter Association (BCPFFA). I was in the position to build relationships with the people who created policy and processes for firefighters who were diagnosed with cancer. As an organization (BCPFFA), we lobbied the government for legislation to protect the families of those firefighters who were diagnosed with the cancers that were directly associated with the “job” of firefighting. This relieved the families of the arduous process of filing a WCB claim, so they could concentrate on the healing and treatment process. I am proud to still be a part of this organization, and was presented with an Honourary Membership to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association this past May.
At the end of my career with the Fire Department, I was in the position of Chief Fire Prevention Officer (CFPO), which had me working with our City Hall Departments, the business community and those building and developing new projects in the City. In this role I was responsible for ensuring the buildings our firefighters were entering were safe for them and those who occupied them. We had to ensure that those new buildings were compliant with Building Code and Fire Code provisions. I was also in the position to look at some of the residential home issues, specifically the issues surrounding illegal suites and residential recovery homes.
The contacts and relationships I have build over the past 18 months, while working in the CFPO position, have provided me with additional insight as to the needs of those living and working in the city. The issues that came up on a monthly basis, that I felt I had solutions with merit, were not finding sustainable resolutions. I saw solutions that could not get to the proper forum for those in the City to take action. I saw the need to step away, retire early from the Fire Department and pursue a different avenue to affect change.
Back to the beginning – Who is Mike Starchuk? I am a person who has spent nearly his entire life, living in the Newton area of Surrey, pursuing a career of public service to those who need assistance in Surrey and other areas of BC. I am an advocate for those less fortunate in Surrey and an Advocate for injured Workers. I understand the need for economic growth in order to sustain the needs of those in Surrey in the future. I have built relationships with those people – and the organizations and affiliations that can assist those people who require it. I can identify problems and successes. I can provide solutions to mend the issues that exist in Surrey, and provide solutions to maintain and grow the things that Surrey is doing right.
Next post…Where Am I Going?
With 35 days before the Municipal election, November 15th, I’d like to take a moment and thank ALL of you who are assisting me and my TEAM, with OUR election campaign.
There are many parts to a good team and I have the “best parts” helping me along the way. Whether it is canvassing, calling, posting, liking, re-tweeting, writing, packaging, building, erecting signs or just showing up… I’m thankful for all of your assistance and words of encouragement.
Focusing on the end goal is much easier when OUR volunteers in the campaign are as helpful as you all are, and I appreciate this greatly.
Thank you, and enjoy the Thanksgiving long weekend!
(Below are a few pictures from today’s voter meet & greet at Guildford Town Centre with Mike & Vera LeFranc, as well as a few from Newton Athletic Park. Click on any image to open them in a pop-up viewer.)
Mike met with Marion Reid (wife of the late Bill Reid), their daughter Cathy and husband George Stroppa (Dean of Douglas College Business Finance) and grandson Chris Stroppa (Burnaby firefighter) to discuss the need for having a strong team in place to keep Surrey moving forward.
Mike Starchuk is running for City Councillor, in his hometown of Surrey, BC.
This website has information about Mike, his career in firefighting and his love for, and commitment to, the City of Surrey.
It also contains information about the Surrey First team – a coalition of independent, non-partisan, community voices working together to build a better Surrey.
Mike has, throughout his career as a Surrey Fire Fighter, always been involved and worked in the community. With your support, he would like to continue that work, by representing Surrey on City Council.