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Evan Duncan thrilled to be new kid on the block

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Evan Duncan says he won’t have first-day jitters the first time he steps foot in city hall.

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Evan Duncan says he won’t have first-day jitters the first time he steps foot in city hall.

As the newly elected councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, he will be the only true fresh face when city politicians get down to business. The other two new councillors — Shawn Dobson and Russ Wyatt — served on previous councils.

“I’m excited to get down there and get to work for the people,” said Duncan, who was still feeling elated at having won the seat in a fiveperson contest Wednesday.

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

As the newly elected councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, Evan Duncan will be the only true fresh face when city politicians get down to business.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken with from city hall, they have been so welcoming, they sound very excited to have me on board there,” Duncan said Thursday.

Duncan won 53 per cent of the votes; second place went to CJOB radio host Hal Anderson, who had 37 per cent support.

Duncan, a life-long Charleswood community member and Manitoba Justice employee, has spent more than a decade working in conflict resolution, often with youth as a juvenile counsellor. He has worked with families affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

He hopes his experience will influence his leadership style.

“Our youth that are coming up right now in our society, they need supports, they need to know that there’s a mentor out there, they need to know that there’s a program that’s going to fit their needs,” he said.

Duncan said he had an advantage in the race because Anderson doesn’t live in the community.

“It wasn’t a hard sell, I have to be perfectly honest … I think that if any message needs to be sent to people throughout the city that want to seek office is that, invest in your community, make sure that you’re a strong advocate for your community, prove to your community that you’re there for them,” he said.

It’s difficult to run against a well-known candidate, and that was made apparent this election. Even an incumbent was victim to name recognition on election day. Shawn Nason, councillor for Transcona, was defeated when Russ Wyatt, who held the seat from 2002-2018, came back to reclaim it.

It was an interesting case of the “double incumbency factor,” University of Manitoba political scientist Chris Adams explained.

“We had two names that were well-recognized, and in fact, the challenger, in some ways, had more name recognition in Transcona than Nason,” he said.

In the other 10 wards in which there was a vote (two councillors were acclaimed), the incumbents easily won.

It’s difficult to run for council against an incumbent who’s had more time to engage with the community and build rapport with voters.

With no support from a provincial party and readily available volunteers and donors, new candidates have to work extra hard to gain the type of support incumbents have had years to biuld, Adams said.

“You don’t have political parties, so you’re really on your own running for city council or for the mayor,” he said. “You’re on your own and you’ve got to pull together your election machinery… an incumbent has done that already, has already been around the block.”

— With files from Joyanne Pursaga

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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