Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sharma succeeds former boss

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A former executive assistant to Mike O'Shaughnessy will succeed the longtime councillor in Old Kildonan.

Devi Sharma, executive director of the Maples Youth Activity Centre and publisher of the Indo-Canadian Telegram, defeated 30-year city employee Casey Jones and businessman Robert Chennells.

She is believed to be the first Indo-Canadian to be elected to Winnipeg city council.

"This victory belongs to you," she shouted to dozens of enthusiastic supporters who jammed her campaign headquarters in a Leila Avenue strip mall.

Sharma, who is not affiliated with a political party, worked three years for O'Shaughnessy (1995-1998), calling it her "first real job" after completing university.

She said she will not align herself with any faction on council. "I'm an independent thinker, an independent voice. I will be doing what's best for the residents of Old Kildonan, voting on integrity, not political loyalties."

A longtime resident of the ward, she is a past recipient of the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award (2001) for community volunteerism. She is married and has a five-year-old son.

In an interview earlier Wednesday, crime and the need to upgrade playgrounds and crumbling infrastructure were among the most common issues raised as she knocked on doors in the ward.

"People are concerned about vandalism, break-ins and car thefts and what we can do to reduce that in our area," she said, adding that one answer is to ensure that community centres thrive.

O'Shaughnessy, who represented the ward for 30 of the past 36 years, refused to formally endorse a successor, but made no secret of his affection for Sharma in a recent interview with the Free Press. "Who I help privately on the side is my business," he said. "Devi's son calls me grampa, so you can figure out."

Jones, a city solid waste contracts foreman, placed third in the ward in the 2006 election, behind O'Shaughnessy and Ross Eadie.

He said he wished some group had hosted an all-candidates debate in the ward "because then I could have shone a little better." Other than that, he said earlier Wednesday, "I think I've run the best campaign I can run."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

 

Old Kildonan

Devi Sharma 6,490

 

Casey Jones 5,027

 

Robert Chennels 2,031

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2010 B7

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