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Council gadfly Sanders in race

Public-policy expert running for mayor

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Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press 
David Sanders, in front of The Forks Market, says he successfully pitched the idea for the redevelopment of the waterfront to then-premier Sterling Lyon.

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Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press David Sanders, in front of The Forks Market, says he successfully pitched the idea for the redevelopment of the waterfront to then-premier Sterling Lyon.

And then there were eight.

David Sanders, the former provincial deputy minister of urban affairs, who for nearly a year and a half has acted as the self-appointed representative of Joe and Joanne Public, will officially become Winnipeg's eighth mayoralty candidate this morning.

The proudly left-leaning, but pragmatic Sanders, 67, confirmed his long-anticipated run for office in an interview with the Free Press Wednesday.

"I decided to run following the last council meeting when it was very clear that this council is unable to deal with what's happened at city hall," said the man who got his start in civic politics covering city hall for the Winnipeg Tribune. "I decided I should offer my services to provide a new direction and new management."

He will run on a platform of airing out the city council chambers, and perhaps clearing out some top-level administration or, at least, making council their masters again.

"I think it's time to overhaul city hall," Sanders said. "I represent someone who can and will overhaul city hall starting immediately in November."

Sanders, who is a lawyer with extensive experience in public policy -- has been trying to overhaul city hall since he became concerned about the direction of the civic government because of the proposed direction of a rapid transit leg -- specifically, the plan to route the Southwest Transitway away from Pembina Highway and through a barren field to the east, a decision he contends would only benefit developers.

That's what led to his almost daily appearance in front of city council, where he attempted to hold both elected and appointed officials accountable.

In the process, he's been seen as an irritant to some councillors.

Sanders has several master's degrees, including one in public policy and another in city planning.

As a young provincial deputy minister of urban affairs, he shared a vision with then city chief commissioner Don MacDonald that turned the railway yards behind Union Station into what today is The Forks.

It began with a walk through the yards.

"Don took me out one Sunday afternoon and showed me around and then showed me the plans for the redevelopment of the waterfront and then shortly after that, Don retired, and I took the plans and the idea to (then-premier) Sterling Lyon and argued this is a great idea."

That led to the expropriation of the land and the start of what is now the province's No. 1 tourist draw and gathering place.

Sanders says he has no backers, no team around him, and -- until he officially joins the race today -- no election website to draw support from.

Sanders is not holding a formal kickoff news conference. If reporters want to speak with him, they can find him today at 9:30 a.m. outside the city clerk's office.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2014 B1

History

Updated on Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM CDT: corrects name of transitway, corrects typo

9:37 AM: corrects typo

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