This is the third in a series of profiles of Surrey city councillors elected on Oct. 15.
“I’m just a simple farmer from Cloverdale.”
With that, on a cold, clear November day, Mike Bose began talking turkey farming, family politics and the job of governing Surrey, now that he’s been elected to city council in his second try.
Back in 2014, Bose ran with Barinder Rasode’s One Surrey slate but didn’t get enough votes.
Four years ago, in 2018, he didn’t run for council. “I had planned to, but my dad’s health was deteriorating, so I didn’t,” Bose noted. “That year there were family issues that precluded me giving it the effort that a campaign requires.”
His father, Doug, died that year. He was oldest of three Bose boys, including twins Roger and Robert (Bob), along with older sister Norma.
No doubt, politics and farming run in the Bose blood, and Mike Bose has as much experience at Surrey city hall as any other councillor sworn-in Nov. 7.
“It’s kind of a family thing,” Bose admitted. “Politically, the first thing I ever did was on the very first student council at Kwantlen College.… I enjoyed it, and from there it was Surrey Farmer’s Institute, became president. At city hall I created the ag (agricultural) advisory concept to council, chaired it for the first 18 years and was vice-chair for the next seven, and that led to a whole raft of other committees at city hall – OCP, future vision, way back in the early 90s.”
Two weeks ago Bose and the other councillors had an orientation day at city hall, prior to their first meeting, and settled into their new offices.
“It started to feel real,” Bose recalled. “It felt good, actually, because I know a lot of people at city hall, a lot of the managers, because I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last 30 years – there and at Highway 10. I’ve had good mentors over the years – Marvin Hunt, Mike Starchuk was good, Linda Annis has done a phenomenal job as councillor.”
And yes, Bob’s his uncle.
It’s a running joke.
“I love the man,” Mike said of the former mayor, “and in provincial and federal politics we probably don’t line up closely, but in municipal politics I think we’re fairly closely aligned. He was the mayor for so long, he’s just a wealth of knowledge. He called me (to give advice), and I love talking to him. He just has so much historical knowledge and how the system works, and he has great ideas.”
In business, Bose chairs the Mutual Fire Insurance, work that brought him to Rome for a recent conference.
“We’ve been in turkey farming since 1964, and before that it was potatoes and dairy,” Bose said as Aries, a five-month-old Lab-Chesapeake cross, roamed the farm on 156 Street. “When I was a kid we grew hay and grain on this farm, and turkeys. My grandfather sold the dairy herd in 1969, and we’ve farmed every vegetable you can imagine, commercially. I always say A to Z, artichokes to zucchini.”
Years ago Bose coached hockey, including one player who’s a son of Rob Stutt, also a first-term Surrey councillor, with Brenda Locke’s rival Surrey Connect slate. Turns out, Bose and Stutt are best of friends, and Stutt ran Bose’s 2014 campaign. “It’s a free country, and I told him he’d make a good councillor, and he will,” Bose said.
On council, Bose’s priorities include reestablishing engagement and trust with the community.
“Those two things were eroded in recent years,” he said.
“I don’t want to talk about the (policing) transition anymore,” Bose continued. “The mayor and slate will do what they will do with that, but we need to do more, things that are needed more for public safety. We need to deal with mental health and drug addictions – we need to find a way to deal with those, because those issues are more important.”
At city hall, Bose is at “the big table” now, where “decisions have consequences.”
Up to this point, he said, “all of my decisions at city hall were in an advisory role, and council agreed with pretty much every piece of advice we gave them.
“People elect you for a purpose and you want to make sure you live up to expectations. Now the real work starts.”