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Wasylycia-Leis gauging support for mayoral run with Feb. 2 meeting

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She’s willing and ready but Judy Wasylycia-Leis wants a push.

That appears to be the message the left-wing politician sent to supporters in a mass e-mail delivered Sunday.

Wasylycia-Leis invited volunteers from her 2010 mayoral campaign to a meeting Feb. 2 to discuss the 2014 municipal election.

"Since my run in 2010 where we garnered over 91,000 votes, I have kept open my options for another bid for mayor," Wasylycia-Leis stated in her email invitation for the meeting at the Park Theatre in south Osborne. "But I need to hear from you about whether I should seriously pursue this path, and, more importantly, whether there is the collective will to work for change and a shared vision for our city’s future."

Wasylycia-Leis told the Free Press this morning that she’s been repeatedly encouraged to run for mayor again – she came a close second in 2010 – but she needs to know if her team of volunteers will support her and what their concerns are for the future of the city.

"It’s part of a whole series of deliberations around this enormous decision – it’s not an easy one to make," Wasylycia-Leis said about the Feb. 2 meeting. "I want to be absolutely convinced there is a collective will among folks who worked on the last campaign to see change at city hall.

"And if it’s not me, this meeting is still important for bringing people together to discuss strategies and how to affect change."

The civic election will be held Oct. 22 and it appears now that Mayor Sam Katz is at his most vulnerable.

A public opinion poll commissioned by the Free Press in December found Katz’s level of support at its lowest since he ran for mayor – obviously linked to a series of scandals at city hall over the past two years.

That poll also found that Wasylycia-Leis would easily out-distance a slate of right and right-of-centre opponents.

While Wasylycia-Leis drew 43 per cent of the vote to Katz’s 55 per cent in 2010, the poll found that same level of support in 2014 would easily trump several right-wing opponents, who would split the vote that Katz had once commanded.

Wasylycia-Leis said she wasn’t surprised by that poll’s findings, adding it confirmed her belief that her support has been holding steady since the 2010 election.

"I know that polls are just a moment in time and it doesn’t give me the definitive answers I need."

Wasylycia-Leis said she knows that left-of-centre councillor John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) is also considering entering the race, adding that’s why it’s important to know the mood of her supporters.

"I’ve talked to (Orlikow) and told him I’m still seriously considering a run and I’ll be doing a lot of soul-searching and major consultations between now and the spring to determine whether I should run or not."

Wasylycia-Leis said she won’t make her announcement before May 1, the earliest date a candidate can register for the fall election.

Only former councillor Gord Steeves has formally declared he’s running for mayor. Others considering a run include lawyer Brian Bowman, and councillors Paula Havixbeck and Scott Fielding.

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