Mayor Sam Katz said he’ll announce in June whether he’ll run again but he’s looking forward to seeing who wants his job.
It looks as if lawyer Brian Bowman is going to be one of those candidates.
Bowman told the Free Press that earlier today he resigned as a board member for several organizations – including president and chair of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and from the board of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce – to clear his way for a mayoralty run.
"I wanted to be honest – I resigned from these boards so that I can really give this decision the full attention it deserves."
Bowman said he’s been approached by a large number of Winnipeggers to run for mayor.
"I want to honour and respect that support and really give it the full attention that it demands."
While some individuals have been unofficially campaigning for mayor for several weeks, the official start of the campaign is May 1, the day mayoralty candidates can register their intentions, allowing them to raise and spend money on a campaign.
Candidates can only file nomination papers, ensuring their names appear on the Oct. 22 ballot, during the week of Sept. 10-16.
Katz said he’s looking forward to next week.
"After all the talk that’s been going on in the media, you’ll find out who’s genuinely interested in running," Katz said.
Former St. Vital councillor Gord Steeves improperly launched his mayoralty campaign back in October – then quickly withdrew it and has remained essentially silent since then. But, he’s made it clear he still intends to run.
St. James councillor Scott Fielding has been using loopholes in the campaign legislation to conduct an unofficial campaign for mayor, issuing policy-like statements just about every two weeks. But, he’s followed the letter of the law, saying only he’s still considering running for mayor.
The early favourite to become mayor is former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis. While she lost to Katz in 2010, she remains the favourite today, at least as indicated by two public opinion polls.
Wasylycia-Leis topped a Free Press poll in December (45%) and a CJOB poll in February (42%), easily outdistancing a handful of right-of-centre candidates, including Bowman, who languished in both polls, with support of 11 per cent and 6 per cent.
Bowman said he’s not concerned about his apparent lack of public support, as indicated by the two polls.
Bowman said he was the only non-politician named in the polls, adding he was flattered he had any level of support at this point.
"I was actually surprised to see my support at the level it’s at, considering I haven’t decided if I’m running," Bowman said. " I haven’t been actively campaigning."
Katz’s fared poorly in both polls – in the Free Press poll he had 22 per cent; in CJOB's, 12 per cent.
The other candidate considering a run for mayor is Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Free Press 11%, CJOB 9%).
Funeral operator Mike Vogiatzakis said he will also launch his campaign May 1.
The conventional wisdom now is Wasylycia-Leis would easily win against a field of several right or right-of-centre candidates, but it would be close if she squared off against one candidate.
Bowman said it’s time to bring in a new generation of leadership at city hall, not just for mayor but all of council.
Bowman said he knows the other mayoralty candidates will have strong organizations supporting them, adding he has demonstrated his leadership abilities through his community work.
"I have no illusions, should I put my name forward I’m going to have to work very hard to let Winnipeggers know who I am and what I’m about.
"I also have no illusions, should I be in the race, I’ll be running against seasoned politicians with seasoned political machines that, in some cases, have been in place for many, many years."