Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City council byelection down to two candidates

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The River Heights-Fort Garry byelection is officially a two-horse race between former school board chairman John Orlikow and broadcaster Geoff Currier.

Orlikow, who resigned from the Winnipeg School Board last week, will face off against Currier, who's on leave from talk station CJOB, in a March 17 byelection that amounts to a clear choice between centre-left and centre-right candidates.

Both Currier and Orlikow have asserted their independence as candidates and stress they do not belong to any political party.

But Conservatives are working for Currier and Orlikow enjoys support from Liberals and members of the NDP.

Several high-profile Conservatives, including Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge and 2008 Winnipeg South Centre candidate Trevor Kennerd, signed Currier's nomination papers. Currier's campaign manager, Dale Smeltz, is a former president of the provincial Progressive Conservative party.

Left-leaning city councillors Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) and Lillian Thomas (Elmwood-East Kildonan) joined Orlikow's Facebook group, along with two mayoral candidates who ran against Sam Katz in 2006 -- Marianne Cerilli and Kaj Hasselriis. Orlikow's campaign manager is Keith Bellamy, a staffer in NDP MP Pat Martin's office.

Yet both candidates are eager to hug the centre in a politically diverse ward that includes traditionally liberal River Heights and more conservative Linden Woods.

"I'm not running to be in government or opposition. I'm running for a seat on council," Currier said on Monday as he promised to view issues at city hall on a case-by-case basis.

Orlikow said municipal issues transcend political parties, so River Heights-Fort Garry voters need not concern themselves with questions of left or right.

"I'm not sure what those terminologies mean in civic politics," he said Monday. "Our group has quite a large tent."

Orlikow and Currier, who braved icy sidewalks to go door-knocking last night, are the only candidates to meet Monday afternoon's nomination deadline.

A third candidate, real-estate agent Brad Gross, failed to submit enough verifiable signatures before the 4:30 p.m. deadline, electoral officer Marc Lemoine said.

A draw will be held tonight to determine which candidate's name will appear first on the March 17 ballot.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 10, 2009 B2

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