A tight race, a campaign sign kerfuffle and grumbling about one candidate's address all point to a messy race brewing in the Daniel McIntyre ward.
Coun. Harvey Smith, who is running for re-election even though he lost the NDP endorsement, says he's heard from five or six residents that right-of-centre candidate Lito Taruc has put signs on their lawns without permission. Other candidates say they've heard the same grumblings, and sometimes signs belonging to Mayor Sam Katz have also popped up beside Taruc's.
"He is obviously Katz's candidate," said Smith.
But Taruc says that's nonsense. He gets permission for every sign he stakes, and he's too busy with his own campaign to worry about the mayor's.
And, he's noticed the reverse -- his opponent's signs have appeared next to his a day after he's nabbed a coveted sign location.
The obligatory sign war, best seen on Arlington Street, could be a preview of worse to come.
Daniel McIntyre is arguably one of the city's closest races, with five strong candidates vying for the seat, some backed by the city's most experienced political operatives. It's also one of a small handful of ridings that are key to Katz's ability to keep control of council.
Daniel Mac has already had a messy start when Keith Bellamy wrestled the NDP nomination away from Smith and Liberal school trustee Cindy Gilroy-Price entered the race despite being the former co-chair of the left-leaning Winnipeg Citizens Coalition, which was founded in part to avoid diluting the left's influence in civic politics.
Most of the ward's five candidates lean heavily to the left -- no surprise in a part of town that's traditionally an NDP stronghold. Taruc is the only centre-right candidate, and has already taken some flak from Smith for living in Tuxedo instead of the inner-city ward.
"I have lots of friends and friends and family in the ward and most of my 33-years of volunteer work has been in the ward," Taruc said Tuesday. "I know the area. I know the problems and the issues."
It's expected that Taruc has sewn up most of the powerful Filipino voting block in the West End, but other candidates, including Smith and Cardoso, say they have wooed some Filipino votes as well.
So far, the policy differences between the candidates are slim, making it a special challenge for left-leaning voters to pick their candidate.
Crime tops the list of hot-button issues in the ward, especially in the poorer areas, and almost every candidate is pledging to invest more in crime prevention programs that keep kids off the street.
Road and back lane repairs are also top-of mind -- while door-knocking recently, Bellamy said he saw a lane behind Clifton Street in the West End that he called "an utter misery" when it rains.
Every candidate is promising more infrastructure spending.