A mix of old and new Diverse new council to be dominated by veteran voices

The orange glow of a full moon was low in the sky over the city as the ballots began to be counted that would determine the shape of the next city council.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2018 (1568 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The orange glow of a full moon was low in the sky over the city as the ballots began to be counted that would determine the shape of the next city council.

But the so-called lunar effect that is part of urban legends appeared to have no sway on voters — at least those who bothered to show up at the polls on a day that was filled with sunshine and warming winds.

There was little in the way of surprises. The only real drama was in the wide-open race in Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry to replace the retiring Jenny Gerbasi and a neck-and-neck race for the newly-created St. Norbert-Seine River ward.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS John Orlikow celebrates with supporters after being re-elected as city councillor in River Heights.

Brian Bowman easily won a return to the mayor’s office. His preference for Portage and Main reopening to pedestrians was soundly defeated, as the polls had long suggested. And the power of incumbency plus the acclamation of Janice Lukes means eight of the 15 seats on council will be filled by veterans.

Alas, there will be one asterisk on the results from this municipal vote — while a mayor and 15 councillors won the chance to represent the city for the next four years, Winnipeg’s hockey team lost to Toronto on a night when the home rink was not only in the spotlight on the national broadcast but also NBC’s feed south of the border.

Incumbents rule

Voters re-elected every incumbent, and by huge margins. In all seven races, they won more than 50 per cent of the vote and were, on average, 39 percentage points ahead of their nearest rival.

Jason Schreyer held onto his seat on council in Elmwood-East Kildonan. His only challenger was community worker and church pastor Robb Massey. 

In River Heights-Fort Garry, voters stuck with incumbent councillor John Orlikow. Orlikow’s main challenger was Garth Steek, the ward councillor from 1995 to 2004 who ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Sam Katz.

“I thought it was a really good campaign but for whatever reason it did not resonate,” Steek said.

 Daniel McIntyre councillor Cindy Gilroy returned for a second term after beating her closest rival Josh Brandon. “This is democracy in action,” she told a small crowd of supporters at her Erin Street campaign office.

Incumbent Scott Gillingham in the newly constituted St. James ward beat fellow councillor Shawn Dobson, whose St. Charles ward was eliminated when boundaries were revised.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Sherri Rollins talks to the media after winning city councillor seat for Fort Rouge - East Fort Garry.

“Shawn and I were in a difficult spot — forced to run against each other,” Gillingham said. “I want to thank him for his four years of service. It was good to work with him.”

It was a cakewalk for St. Vital incumbent councillor Brian Mayes, who easily beat his only challenger, Baljeet Sharma. “We’ve been using this old ’80s song Walking on Sunshine for the last 10 days or so,” said Mayes.

In Mynarski, Ross Eadie was elected to a third term. Eadie, 58, defeated his closest rival, businessman Michael Wiens, by a three-to-one margin. In a brief campaign speech to about two dozen campaign workers and supporters, Eadie expressed concern for a lack of recreational facilities, which he blamed, in part, for addictions problems in the north Winnipeg ward and a loss of hope among city youth.

“With good sport and recreation activities for our kids, with volunteers who work with those kids to build respect for themselves and respect for everybody else, that’s how you build hope,” Eadie said.

It was all claps and smiles at Old Kildonan ward’s incumbent Devi Sharma’s headquarters as results rolled in. Sharma, who’s held the seat since 2010, beat her nearest rival Kaur Sidhu, who ran unsuccessfully for the provincial Progressive Conservatives in the Maples in 2016.

Jeff Browaty easily won a fourth term as councillor for North Kildonan. As soon as the polls closed at 8 p.m., Browaty soared past his only opponent, Andrew Podolecki. Browaty, 41, was first elected to city council in 2006.

In St. Boniface, incumbent Matt Allard was re-elected, easily beating his only challenger Marcel Boille. 

“To me, it means that I have a community that believes in me and that I should keep doing what I’m doing,” said Allard. 

CAITLYN GOWRILUK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Cindy Gilroy celebrates with supporters after winning the Daniel McIntyre ward council seat Wednesday.

In the newly created Waverley West ward, councillor Janice Lukes was acclaimed. 

Tight races, new faces

There are five new faces on council after four incumbents decided not to run again and new ward boundaries were created.

Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, the ward that Jenny Gerbasi held for 20 years, was won by the candidate she endorsed — Sherri Rollins. Rollins was chairwoman of the Winnipeg School Division. She beat second-place candidate Jeff Palmer, a city planner with Catapult Community Planning and six other candidates, including Osborne Village BIZ executive director, Stephanie Meilleur.

“I feel honoured and humbled and everything you’d expect me to feel,” Rollins said at her election headquarters at the Fort Garry Hotel. 

Point Douglas, a ward long held by Mike Pagtakhan, was won by Vivian Santos, his executive assistant. Santos thanked her supporters at a tight-knit gathering on McPhillips Street, complete with Filipino food and dozens of photos of the candidate on the campaign trail plastered on the walls. She gave a shout out to Pagtakhan for whom she worked for the past three years.

“I hope that I can be just as great of a leader like you have been in the last 16 years. I have definitely big shoes to fill, but I did learn from the best,” she said. 

For the first time since 2002, there is a new city councillor for Transcona. Shawn Nason, 50, was constituency manager for Transcona Conservative MP Lawrence Toet and has worked as special assistant for two provincial cabinet ministers. Nason won the seat vacated by veteran councillor Russ Wyatt in a crowded race, beating seven challengers.

EVA WASNEY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Kevin Klein watches the results roll in at the Thirsty Lion pub in Charleswood.

“We ran the best campaign we could,” an emotional Nason said, surrounded by his family and campaign team. “We got to a lot of doors throughout the ward.”

The only race that might be considered an upset is in Charleswood-Tuxedo where newcomer Kevin Klein won the seat vacated by Marty Morantz. Klein’s main challenger was a familiar name, former city councillor, Grant Nordman who represented the St. Charles ward until 2014 when he was defeated by Shawn Dobson.

“The people in the community put their trust in me and now it’s up to me to live up to my commitment to them,” said Klein, 53. 

In the newly created St. Norbert-Seine River ward, Markus Chambers, a manager with the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, narrowly beat Nancy Cooke in a field of five candidates. 

“This has been a four-month process, and here we are making history,” Chambers told a roomful of jubilant supporters at his Pembina Highway election headquarters. 

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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