July 30, 2015


Civic Election 2014

Wyatt isn't saying whether he will seek re-election

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt may add his name to a list of city hall veterans who won't run for re-election this year.

City council's third-most powerful politician has yet to register a re-election campaign and may not seek a fourth term on council in October.

Candidates have until Sept. 16 to register their campaigns. Nominations close the same day.

"That's the cutoff," Wyatt quipped Monday in an interview, saying he's not certain whether he'll place his name on the Oct. 22 ballot.

A councillor since 2002, Wyatt is city council's finance chairman and also served as the city's deputy mayor before St. Norbert's Justin Swandel returned to executive policy committee in 2013.

The former provincial NDP member had enough clout in east Winnipeg to influence the 2011 federal election result in Elmwood-Transcona through his support for Conservative Lawrence Toet. He also helped convince Ottawa and Broadway to fund the $77-million Plessis Road widening and overpass.

Wyatt said while he's not certain whether he'll seek a council seat again, he ruled out a run to succeed Sam Katz as Winnipeg's mayor.

"I can tell you right now, I'm not running for mayor," Wyatt said. "I'm also not backing anybody. I just know who I'm not backing."

Wyatt said he vehemently dislikes the prospect of Judy Wasylycia-Leis becoming mayor and claimed the former NDP MP and MLA would put the party -- as well as the city's largest union, the Canadian Union of Employees Local 500 -- ahead of the city.

"She's been a dyed-in-the-wool NDPer all her life. She will think of the party first and the city second," he claimed. "I think an NDP mayor would be very divisive for the city and would be a huge setback."

Wasylycia-Leis said she won't engage Wyatt in an exchange of personal attacks. She said she has had years of experience working across party lines.

"I have a broad-based campaign and I intend to be a mayor for people," Wasylycia-Leis said.

Should Wyatt retire from city hall, he'll be the fifth incumbent to do so. Katz is not running again after 10 years in office. Neither is Swandel, first elected in 2005.

St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal, who served from 1995 to 2004 and rejoined council in 2006, is also retiring to serve as a Liberal challenger to Conservative Shelly Glover in the federal riding of Saint Boniface-Saint Vital. St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, a council member since 2006, is resigning to fulfill a two-term limit commitment and position himself for a future provincial run as a Progressive Conservative.

Aside from Wyatt, the only council incumbent who has not announced retirement plans but has yet to register a re-election campaign is Old Kildonan's Devi Sharma, first elected in 2010.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2014 B3

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