Mayor Sam Katz appointed an old face and a familiar face to his executive policy committee this morning.
Justin Swandel (St. Norbert), once believed to be Katz’s most-trusted ally and supporter who quit EPC a year ago claiming it was broken, rejoins the powerful group as chair of infrastructure renewal and public works.
Grant Nordman (St. Charles), who had been speaker, joins EPC as a non-committee chair with responsibilities.
"The team before you is focused on the priorities of Winnipeg," Katz said as he introduced his six-member cabinet.
The changes were prompted after Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) and Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) quit late last month: Vandal, to concentrate on his bid to run federally for the Liberals; Fielding, quit as he was upset with pending property-tax increases, the mess with the fire hall scandal and the new police HQ over-runs. Fielding is considering a run for mayor next year.
But in a strange twist, Katz said in welcoming Swandel back, he was the only councillor to leave "of his own initiative" – casting doubt on the forces motivating Vandal and Fielding. Katz refused to explain his comments.
"I picked these two (Swandel and Nordman) because I think they can be valuable assets," Katz said
Brian Mayes (St. Vital) who had been the non-committee member of EPC, takes over Fielding’s old post as chair of protection and community services.
Swandel replaces Vandal as chair of public works.
The three remaining EPC members retained their positions: Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), chair of property and development; Russ Wyatt (Transcona), holds onto finance; and Mike Pagtakhan, chair of downtown development, heritage and riverbank management.
With Nordman joining EPC, councillors will choose a new speaker during Wednesday’s re-organizational meeting.
Katz appointed Swandel deputy mayor, a post previously held by Wyatt; Wyatt was also given a new secretarial portfolio, economic development.
Katz would not say if anyone had turned him down.
Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood- Tuxedo) was the last woman on EPC – booted off by Katz in January because she was seen as too independent -- and she said she’s concerned with the new make-up of the group.
"People are tired of the perceived boys’ club at city hall making all the decisions," Havixbeck said.