Speculation is mounting that Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts may be facing a challenge to her leadership after high-profile city councillor Barinder Rasode announced Thursday she was leaving the mayor's Surrey First party.

Rasode announced her decision to become an independent via Twitter.

Rasode claims her outspoken position on public safety concerns has left her isolated within the ranks of Surrey First.

Asked if she is planning to run for mayor, she said: "Like many of my colleagues, it's certainly something I would consider strongly."

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Speculation is mounting that Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts may face a leadership challenge in the forthcoming municipal elections.

In a statement, Dianne Watts said that she was "saddened and disappointed" by Rasode's decision, saying that both herself and council would continue to support Rasode in her position as Chair of Community Safety."

Mayor Watts did not address whether she plans to run again.

"At this point in time, I will remain focused on that task and will not engage in electioneering.”

The rumour machine is already rife with names of fellow Surrey First councillors — Linda Hepner and Tom Gill — who may be planning to do electoral battle.

Gill said that any decision he makes will be based on Watts' own plans.

"If something should change in the mayor's program, certainly I would need to make that decision at that time."

Nominations for council open Sept. 29.

READ: Rasode's letter to Surrey First team

With files from CBC's Meera Bains