On the busiest day of the 2014 Winnipeg mayoral race, Coun. Paula Havixbeck entered what's now a six-candidate contest, and privacy lawyer Brian Bowman received rock-star treatment at his first campaign event.
On Wednesday afternoon, Havixbeck signed her mayoral-campaign registration papers at city hall, pledged she won't switch gears and run for her Charleswood-Tuxedo council seat again and promised to abolish the executive policy committee if she's elected Oct. 22.
Two hours later, Bowman walked onstage at the Winnipeg Art Gallery's auditorium to the strains of Judas Priest's You've Got Another Thing Comin', received a standing ovation from a youngish crowd of 350 and pledged to improve both political transparency at city hall and make administrative data more accessible.
Both candidates spoke of the need to "shine a light" on "backroom decision-making" and "move the city forward."
Havixbeck and Bowman dismissed a notion raised earlier in the day by incumbent Mayor Sam Katz, who surmised the presence of so many conservative-leaning mayoral candidates could create an election-day cakewalk for the NDP-affiliated Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
"When somebody calls my office, I don't ask them what colour their political card is. I respond and deal with their issue," said Havixbeck, accompanied by her sons Nick and Adrian. "I hope we can take the partisan politics out of city hall."
Bowman also rejected the notion the right-of-centre vote will be split if he appears on a ballot that also includes Havixbeck, former city councillor Gord Steeves and possibly Katz and St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding as well.
"At the end of the day, if you're going to win an election on the municipal level, you need to grow a big tent," Bowman said. "I'm not fighting for the right; I'm fighting for the trust and confidence of Winnipeggers."
So far, the registered mayoral candidates are Bowman, Havixbeck, Steeves and three lesser-known longshots, Michel Fillion, Mike Vogiatzakis and Gordon Warren.
Havixbeck, who was elected to council in 2010, said she will continue to serve residents of Charleswood-Tuxedo until Oct. 22. She pledged she will not make an about-face in September and run for her council seat again.
"I'm not changing my mind and shifting papers around," she said. "This was a difficult decision. I'm a single mom with two boys."
Havixbeck said the first things she would do in office would include eliminating EPC, which she decried as creating two tiers of power on city council, and restoring public trust in the wake of the fire-paramedic station construction scandal and the police-headquarters cost overruns. The former EPC member said she was politically galvanized by the lack of accountability for the problems with both projects.
Bowman, however, pointed out Havixbeck had the opportunity to affect change at city hall and has not done so.
"Obviously, Coun. Havixbeck is no stranger to city hall. She was a loyal lieutenant of Sam Katz and EPC for some time before she left," he told reporters following his speech. "She is somebody who knows the corridors of power."
Bowman, who is lauding his status as an outsider in this race, has some powerful supporters of his own. He was introduced Wednesday by Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president Dave Angus.
Several chamber members provided testimonials at his campaign event, where the audience included young Tory and Liberal activists and more established businesspeople such as Jeoff Chipman, brother of Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark.
Bowman said he'll make his first policy announcement in several weeks. He described it as a two-pronged open-data plan. Politicians must open their daybooks and city departments must collect data in a manner that it can be easily posted online, he said.