Whole new ball game for former mascot


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From the football field to the political arena, a city council hopeful wants to create a buzz in St. James.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/03/2022 (322 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

From the football field to the political arena, a city council hopeful wants to create a buzz in St. James.

Retired businessman Kelly Ryback, who was once the Buzz mascot for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, has announced he is throwing in his hat, uh, helmet into the city council race in the St. James ward this fall.

Ryback said he is willing to tackle civic issues that others have fumbled.

SUPPLIED Retired businessman Kelly Ryback said he is willing to tackle civic issues that others have fumbled.

“I want to get back to the core essentials the city should focus on,” he said on Wednesday.

“What I call the six Ps — pipes, pavement, parks, police, paramedics/fire and poverty. I think the city has got away from that in the last two administrations.”

Ryback said he didn’t aspire to run for city council until recently. He was part of the citizen movement that persuaded councillors not to sell the John Blumberg Golf Course to developers.

“I took an active role in trying to save that golf course,” he said. “It ended up very successful.

“I golfed there for the first time in 1975. It is important to the people of St. James.”

Ryback, who grew up in St. James — and attended Crestview Elementary School and Ness Junior High and graduated from John Taylor Collegiate in 1982 — also played for the St. James A’s baseball team. He coached hockey and lacrosse teams for Crestview.

Ryback was an executive on the St. James-Assiniboia Minor Hockey Association.

He graduated from Red River College with a diploma in computer programming, and went on to have a successful corporate career with Bell-MTS and Videon.

Ryback said his 16 years as Buzz, starting in 1984, was fun.

“The entertaining part for me was performing for all the fans at the game and then seeing those same fans downtown and they would just walk past me not knowing who I was.”

In fact, Ryback said the reason he gave former Bomber general manager Paul Robson for wanting to portray Buzz is similar to why he is running for city council.

“I told Paul Robson “I know I can do the job and I would regret not trying for it when I saw someone else do it”,” he said.

“I know I can do the job and I have a good perspective and ideas for it. I want to be part of the solution.”

The incumbent councillor is Scott Gillingham.

But Gillingham, who has represented St. James for seven years and chairs the civic finance committee, has said he is “very likely” to run for mayor this fall since Brian Bowman has announced he won’t seek re-election.

“I would welcome the opportunity to campaign against Gillingham or in an open race,” Ryback said.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

The civic election will be held on Oct. 26.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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