Mayoral candidate Brian Bowman wants the mayor’s cabinet to be elected by council and take a pay cut.
As part of his plan for a more cohesive, "high performance" council, Bowman pledged Tuesday to allow councillors to choose his six-person executive policy committee. But, those coveted posts won’t be as lucrative. A top-up to their regular council salaries means members of EPC make about $115,000 a year. Bowman pledged to cut the top-up in half, worth about $10,000, and also cut the mayor’s salary by the same $10,000.
Bowman would not ask the province to change Winnipeg’s charter, which says the mayor must appoint EPC members. Instead, Bowman pledged to make his appointments based on a council vote, saying he will work with the city council Winnipeggers elect.
He said EPC has traditionally been a "breeding ground for patronage and comfortable top-ups," that fosters divisions on council and mistrust among the public.
Asked whether cutting EPC salaries will further erode the quality of candidates who run for office, Bowman said he believe most people join council because of a belief in public service, not for the money. And he said most Winnipeggers believe councillors make a reasonable wage.
Bowman also pledged Tuesday to recreate the EPC secretariat, the office of policy experts who advise council and manage issues.
Bowman’s plan is a step further than similar reforms proposed by Mayor Sam Katz and passed earlier this summer. Council agreed to elect half of EPC and allow the mayor to appoint the remaining three members. Most members of EPC also chair a standing committee of council, which allows them some agenda-setting power.
At the time, Coun. Paula Havixbeck, now running for mayor, also proposed a wider-reaching set of reforms. She favours shrinking the current five committees to four and creating a system of rotating chairmanships so every councillor has a chance to chair each committee. She also proposed distributing the EPC salary top-ups among all councillors and holding full council meetings four times a month.