Xs and foes: Profiles of mayoral candidates
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Eleven diverse candidates, 11 different journeys in deciding to run for Winnipeg mayor.
Many are familiar names to city voters, having held public office or having made high-profile campaign bids in the past; others, however, are newcomers to the political arena.
They’re united in a singular pursuit — succeeding two-term Mayor Brian Bowman, who is not seeking re-election.
The Free Press profiled every mayoral candidate on the ballot. For more civic election coverage, please click here.
Engineer wants to be details man city needs
As he oversees engineering projects, Idris Adelakun is used to finding solutions and implementing them within strict timelines.
Adelakun, who is running for mayor in the Oct. 26 election, hopes to take that approach to solving entrenched social issues.
“Winnipeg has given me a lot and I have to give back,” says the man who arrived in Canada just over a decade ago. “I want to transform our great city by implementing a well-designed plan, and I’m putting that plan together right now.”
Adelakun left his native Nigeria for Winnipeg in 2010 to complete a master’s degree at the University of Manitoba in biosystems engineering, which focuses on agricultural equipment.
Bokhari tired of ‘same old’ election conversations
As the only woman of colour, the only candidate who’s led a political party and the only lawyer on the ballot with the legal experience to make sure the city doesn’t sign another contract that ends up soaking taxpayers, Rana Bokhari says she’s the best choice for mayor if Winnipeggers want real change.
A different perspective is needed to shake off the shackles that keep Winnipeg in the past, doing things the same way year after year and expecting a different outcome, said the Manitoba-born, first-generation Pakistani-Canadian who grew up on a chicken farm in Anola.
Rival campaigns aren’t offering anything new, said Bokhari, 44, who’s stepped away from the law firm she started to run for mayor.
“We’re doing the same old, same old — the conversations are exactly the same. I can pull up three elections from the past and talk about them today and nothing will have changed. It’s exactly the same,” she said in an interview in her toy-festooned Transcona home, where she lives with her widowed mother who provides daycare for Bokhari’s three-year-old niece.
Finding inspiration in the North End
Chris Clacio rattles off the history of the cast bronze bell that rang out over city hall at the turn of the 20th century and the contemporary youth movement that gathered in the shadow of its current Selkirk Avenue tower home to oppose violence in the North End.
The 30-year-old mayoral candidate explains that when he joined the Stop the Violence rallies in 2014, he found camaraderie, safety and inclusion among the Indigenous youth leading the social-justice movement supporting a community reeling from criminal and gang activity.
As a second-generation Filipino-Canadian growing up in The Maples, Clacio says he was cut off from his cultural identity, and throughout his youth struggled to find belonging in any community. But he found his place in the support and welcoming embrace of the North End gatherings.
“Urban indigenous young people made that space welcome to diverse community members, that’s one of the reasons I want to run for public office,” he says.
‘I’ve got proven leadership,’ says two-term councillor, pastor
Scott Gillingham says the best part of campaigning to become mayor is visiting the doorsteps of Winnipeggers.
During a door-knocking session in Waverley West, the mayoral candidate said meeting residents in their communities has been the highlight of his previous two successful council campaigns and his current mayoral bid.
“This is the part I enjoy the most,” he says while running across a residential street to meet someone who opened the door to speak to one of his volunteers. “You never know what you’re going to get at the door.”
Between short conversations with voters who answer the knock, he notes dogs have chased him off properties “only twice” and that he makes sure to buy a new pair of shoes at the start of every election campaign.
Kevin Klein campaign sets sights on combating city crime
Over four years as a Winnipeg city councillor, Kevin Klein has often been deemed a blunt critic of his political opponents, the kind of leader supporters credit with “telling it like it is.”
During his rookie term, he didn’t shy away from criticizing council decisions, along with what he deems persistent threats to public safety.
Now running for mayor, the Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood councillor is not reluctant to portray high crime rates as a major threat to Winnipeg.
“It’s not time to give up on this city, it’s time to start fighting for our city,” Klein, 57, told the audience of an evening town hall he hosted in late August, which involved plenty of discussion on the topic.
‘We need systemic change’: Loney builds campaign on value of solutions
Cracked concrete of a gated Point Douglas-area parking lot, tucked between a refurbished brown-brick warehouse and the imposing steel tracks of the Canadian Pacific Railway, doubled as stage for mayoral candidate Shaun Loney on an early August afternoon.
Beneath the blazing sun, the 52-year-old entrepreneur made his pitch to two-dozen people who dropped in for a barbecue after their shift at one of the non-profits housed at the Social Enterprise Centre just off Main Street or to shake hands with the rookie politician during his second campaign stop of the day.
“My soul is embedded here,” Loney told the crowd, gesturing to the Social Enterprise Centre at his back, which opened in 2012 as a hub for non-profit organizations, including three co-founded by Loney over the past decade: Building Urban Industries for Local Development Inc., Aki Energy, and Purpose Construction.
“Winnipeg’s defining issue is connecting the people who most need the work with the work that most needs to be done,” he told the crowd. “And we’re going to get it done here in Winnipeg, so the entire country knows that Winnipeg knows how to solve problems. We know what love and compassion looks like on the ground: like social enterprises.”
Motkaluk believes ability to overcome obstacles gives her mayoral cred
A dozen business owners and employees gather around rows of fridges, washers and other household appliances in the back of a sales and repair shop on Selkirk Avenue, as they wait to meet with a woman who wants to be Winnipeg’s next mayor.
After dropping off her purse on a deep-freezer, Jenny Motkaluk introduces herself and asks them what they want from their next municipal leader.
“Before I release my policy and my plans, it’s important for me to know… what’s important to you,” she tells the group.
Some appear skeptical, including a man named Paul, who tells her that politicians “only show up whenever they need (support).”
Humbled in the home stretch
If you needed to find a calm before a storm, you couldn’t find a better location than the Palm Room at the Hotel Fort Garry.
It is mid afternoon on a late September Wednesday, that sleepy moment after the lunch rush and well before happy hour. Glen Murray is finishing up a call at a table on the perimeter of the round-shaped room, servers are resetting the tables and the dulcet tones of Louis Armstrong singing Dancing Cheek to Cheek are wafting up to the golden-domed ceiling.
This moment is also just 12 hours or so before Murray’s pack-leading mayoral campaign — the latest poll result showed Murray with a commanding lead in a crowded field — was about to suffer a major setback. A CBC story detailed allegations of toxic behaviour during a one-year stint as executive director of the Pembina Institute, a non-governmental environmental lobby.
During an hour-long interview, Murray never raised the impending storm that was about to descend on his campaign although he did frequently refer to his time at the Pembina Institute. Murray said he loved the job, but a demanding work schedule convinced him it was time to come back to Winnipeg in mid-2018 to start Creative Applications for Sustainable Technology, a software-development company.
Former MP wants voters to know he’s not ‘the average politician’
If elected mayor, Robert-Falcon Ouellette will have his office housed inside Thunderbird House.
He’d call a massive meeting, inviting everyone from trustees to MLAs to gather for hours and sort out how to fix Winnipeg’s homelessness crisis.
“If people are thinking about voting for me, I think they have to realize they’re not going to get the average politician,” said Ouellette, a Liberal MP from 2015 to 2019.
“There are a lot of social challenges related to poverty in our city, that haven’t been addressed very well.”
Environment, Winnipeggers’ health on outdoor enthusiast’s priority list
Rick Shone is hoping to be the mayoral candidate helping Winnipeggers who feel they are up a creek without a paddle when it comes to civic politics.
That’s because Shone, as the owner of Wilderness Supply, has sold a lot of paddles. And canoes, kayaks and other outdoor supplies.
The 45-year-old businessman wants to take his entrepreneurial know-how — and his love of the outdoors — to the mayor’s chair after next month’s civic election.
“I’ve always been an outdoors person, I grew up just outside the city,” he said. “I did camping trips with my dad and, then, later with fellow students.
Multiple campaigns, lots of controversy, no victories
Perennial election candidate Don Woodstock is hoping the sixth time is the charm.
After running unsuccessfully in two provincial races, one attempt to win a seat in Parliament and another to become a city councillor, the familiar face on the campaign trail is hoping his second bid to become Winnipeg’s mayor is triumphant.
No matter what happens when the ballots are counted on Oct. 26, the Jamaica-born candidate who immigrated in 1995 believes that his prayer: “Lord, give me the wisdom to bring forth the issues that will make the changes necessary to improve the quality of life of the people,” has been answered
Changes that he’s advocated for since he first ran for office in 2011 for the provincial Liberals in Minto have occurred, and Woodstock sees that as an affirmation and a personal triumph.
Updated on Friday, October 7, 2022 12:06 PM CDT: Adds remaining candidates in alphabetical order