Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Next up: Katz to pick cabinet

Top six better paid, wield more power

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The Winnipeg mayoral race is over but the derby to decide who sits on city council's most powerful committee has only just begun.

Over the next four days, Mayor Sam Katz will choose six councillors to join him on executive policy committee, the body that approves civic plans before they go to a council vote.

EPC also meets behind closed doors to decide how to proceed on major issues. EPC members enjoy more power as well as higher salaries -- they earn approximately $15,000 more a year than their non-EPC colleagues.

The death of former Charleswood councillor Bill Clement and the retirement of former Old Kildonan councillor Mike O'Shaughnessy created two vacancies on EPC. But Katz also has the option of removing existing members.

By Tuesday, Katz will decide which six out of 15 councillors will sit on EPC, and which ones will chair committees.

The mayor began speaking to some councillors Thursday morning.

"Until I contact everybody, I won't be making any decisions," he said.

Here's an educated guess about who's likely to wind up on executive policy committee:

 

Existing members:

Gord Steeves (St. Vital): The squeaky-clean, Liberal property committee chairman has emerged from the civic election as the second-most-powerful member of city council and a probable mayoral contender in 2014. There's little chance Katz will remove him from EPC.

Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands): The Conservative finance committee chairman is Katz's most loyal ally on council. He is not going anywhere.

Justin Swandel (St. Norbert): A Liberal who leans to the right, Swandel was humbled by a surprisingly close council race and still faces some football-stadium storms. But the downtown development chairman remains a fierce supporter of Katz and an intellectual asset to EPC, when his emotions don't get the better of him.

Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas): The quietest member of EPC has not done much with the protection and community services portfolio he inherited from Steeves. But Katz won't make the mistake of removing him from EPC again, as he did in 2006. A demoted Pagtakhan consistently voted against EPC, most notably on the Riverside Park lease renegotiation, before he rejoined the committee in 2008.

 

Possible additions:

Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan): The Conservative sophomore councillor hoped to join EPC when Katz kicked Transcona's Russ Wyatt off the committee in 2009. The mayor chose O'Shaughnessy instead. If Katz overlooks Browaty again, he runs the risk of alienating a young, energetic councillor who should be an ally.

Devi Sharma (OId Kildonan): In 2006, Katz showed no hesitation about placing a rookie councillor on EPC when he named the late Brenda Leipsic deputy mayor. Sharma has yet to serve a day on council, but her experience as a publisher and volunteer makes her a viable option.

Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo): The same dynamic that works for Sharma could work for Havixbeck, who has the added advantage of being a business consultant and academic. Havixbeck has also worked with Bonnie Staples-Lyon, Katz's chief of staff. Unlike Sharma, who positioned herself as a centrist, Havixbeck is clearly aligned with Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives.

Grant Nordman (St. Charles): Like Browaty, Nordman is a right-of-centre incumbent. But it's more likely Katz will promote the former deputy speaker to the position of council speaker, who traditionally votes along with the mayor.

Dan Vandal (St. Boniface): If Katz really wants to increase the size of his ideological tent, appointing an NDP-affiliated councillor who's also friends with Premier Greg Selinger would go a long way to creating more consensus at city council. The problem is, Katz does not appear to like Vandal, who ran against him in the 2004 mayoral race.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

 

No recount in Charleswood

The runner-up in Charleswood-Tuxedo's tight council race will not petition for a recount of Paula Havixbeck's 56-vote win.

Second-place finisher Jarret Hannah conceded the race to Havixbeck on Thursday morning, saying it is in the best interests of the ward to move on with a new leader.

Havixbeck squeaked out a narrow win, beating Hannah 4,190 to 4,134. The slim victory initially prompted Hannah to say he would ask for a recount.

Mark Lemoine, the city's senior election official, said officials do not automatically recount votes unless there is a tie. Anyone who wants to petition for a recount must launch a court challenge and convince a judge there may be a discrepancy, he said.

The southwest area has been without a councillor since the incumbent, Bill Clement, died last spring.

"I had a chance to sleep on it and whether it's five votes or 500 votes, she won," Hannah said. "It's not fair to (residents) and I'm at peace with it."

Hannah issued a statement Thursday morning congratulating Havixbeck on her win.

-- Jen Skerritt

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2010 B1

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