Judy Villeneuve, Surrey's longest serving councillor, won't seek re-election

Since she was first elected in 1989, Villeneuve has focused on building an arts community, welcoming immigrants and reducing poverty and homelessness.

First elected in 1989, Villeneuve has seen city grow 3 times in population during her tenure

Surrey Councillor Judy Villeneuve says she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren and the rest of her family. (City of Surrey)

When Judy Villeneuve was first elected to council in 1989, Surrey's population was just shy of 175,000 people.

Back then, three-storey homes were considered tall buildings.

"We now have a population of more than 500,000 and we have grown at a fairly unprecedented rate," Villeneuve said.

"The exciting part of my job has [been] being able to plan a city core from the ground up."

Villeneuve says she is stepping down because she wants to spend more time with her three grandchildren and the rest of her family.

'Tireless worker and advocate'

When Mayor Linda Hepner boasts about the wide range of political views on her Surrey First team, she usually begins with a comment about Villeneuve.

"We have room for people as left-leaning as Judy," Hepner will often say before she mentions the name of a more conservative candidate.

Over the past 30 years, Villeneuve has focused on building an arts community, welcoming immigrants and reducing poverty and homelessness.

"Judy has always been a tireless worker and advocate for a Surrey that is inclusive, creative, and caring," Hepner said.

"When Judy speaks, people in Surrey listen."

New faces

Hepner and Surrey First Coun. Mary Martin have also announced that they're not seeking re-election.

Councillors Tom Gill, Bruce Hayne, Vera LeFranc and Mike Starchuk have all expressed interest in securing the party's mayoral nomination.

That leaves at least three seats on council and the mayor's chair up for grabs in the upcoming election.

Jesse Johnston