Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Who benefits the most?

Candidates reassess race after Katz opts to bow out

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2That's how Charleswood Coun. Paula Havixbeck describes Sam Katz's decision not to run for re-election.

The question about whether the mayor would run again has been paramount in the campaign. The man who had the golden touch clearly lost it as the past four years of his administration were rocked by blunders and scandals.

Reaction from mayoral candidates

“He deserves some quality time now with his family.” 

— Judy Wasylycia-Leis

 

“It’s a game-changer.” 

— Paula Havixbeck

 

“He should have run and defended his record. He probably realized the people of the city of Winnipeg were fed up and very disappointed. He didn’t run the city for everyone, it was just for his friends and small group of supporters.”

— Robert-Falcon Ouellette

 

“I hope this is a happy day for himself. Like any mayor, there’s been some ups and some downs. He wasn’t big on the pomp and circumstance of being mayor, but more interested in the on-the-ground results.”

— Gord Steeves

 

“Today is the day that Winnipeggers should thank Sam Katz and his family. Whether people agreed with his politics or his style of leadership, at the end of the day he devoted a decade of his life to serving the people of Winnipeg, and that’s something people should take pause and thank him for.”

— Brian Bowman

 

“I think he did the best he could do. I think overall he did a good job, but it was just his time to step down.” 

— Mike Vogiatzakis

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Poll

How do you feel about Mayor Sam Katz leaving municipal politics?

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Polls indicated Judy Wasylycia-Leis had the most to gain if Katz sought re-election, which would further fragment the centre-right vote.

As the only left-of-centre candidate, polls showed she could easily win the race even if she pulled in the same 43 per cent popular vote she drew when losing to Katz in 2010.

But that only works if the centre-right splits the vote. She has to hope none of the other major candidates -- Havixbeck, Brian Bowman, Gord Steeves -- drop out. Even Katz, ignoring his own low standing in polling, said he believes he will affect the race by not being in it.

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Katz said he still has a lot of support and it will be interesting to see where they line up.

He said his supporters are being courted by the other candidates, but they refused to commit themselves.

Not running, he said, "will help a lot of the organizations and people who were waiting for me to decide so they could figure out what they were doing because they weren't going to be supporting anybody else until I decided.

"They'd been telling all the other candidates, 'Sorry, we're supporting Sam.' It's nice for them to know and now they can make their decision and do what they believe is best for our city."

Havixbeck, Steeves, and Mike Vogiatzakis said they'll be courting Katz supporters.

Steeves said he believes many of Katz's supporters will line up behind him.

"Of all the candidates in the race, my impression is Sam Katz running affected me the most," Steeves said. "If people liked Sam and were supportive of him because of what he's done, now that he's not running, they'll be free to choose up a new candidate and... hopefully, that's me."

Wasylycia-Leis and Bowman insist Katz's decision will have little impact on their campaigns.

"I was in this race on an agenda of change, whether Sam was in or out," Wasylycia-Leis said.

Bowman said he has positioned himself as an alternative to the status quo: "It's time to move forward with the new-generation leadership that we're providing."

Robert-Falcon Ouellette said Katz essentially admitted what voters already knew.

"The establishment made their decision about Sam and they realized they can't win with him and that's why he's not running," Ouellette said.

Ouellette said Bowman is courting the establishment and is emerging as their choice.

"Bowman is young, has a great tie, a beautiful family and a great smile," Ouellette said. "It seems Bowman is going after the elite that have always controlled the political process to enrich themselves."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2014 A5

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