Ward races: a look at Winnipeg’s city council candidates
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Winnipeg is preparing to welcome its newest cast of city councillors when voters head to the polls Wednesday.
They will serve alongside the new mayor and will be responsible for forging the city’s future over the next four years and beyond.
Winnipeg’s political boundaries form 15 distinct wards, but there are only 13 races this election.
Council seats in St. Norbert-Seine River and Old Kildonan are already decided, as Couns. Markus Chambers and Devi Sharma run unopposed.
Only residents in Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood and St. James are guaranteed to see new representatives, as former councillors Kevin Klein and Scott Gillingham have vacated their council seats in their bids to become mayor.
Here’s a look at the races:
INCUMBENT: Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood is one of the most hotly contested wards in this election.
Klein held the seat for one term, leaving the position vacant when he announced plans to run for mayor in August.
Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood has seen a series of single-term councillors since Bill Clement, who held the seat for 27 years, died in 2010.
Paula Havixbeck won the seat in 2010, but vacated it in 2014 when she unsuccessfully ran for mayor. Marty Morantz succeeded her, but left in 2018 to pursue federal politics, eventually becoming the MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley.
Klein followed, and is now the third consecutive councillor to leave in an attempt to further their political career.
Five candidates are competing for the ward seat; none have previously sat on council.
• Hal Anderson is a well known Winnipeg radio personality who is on leave from his post at CJOB during the campaign. Crime is his top priority. He describes himself as a “common sense” councillor who will ensure all Winnipeg voices are heard. Anderson previously endorsed Klein for mayor.
• Evan Duncan, a Manitoba Justice employee, ran for the Charleswood council seat in 2014, narrowly losing to Morantz. He feels his professional experience makes him well-suited to address crime, homelessness and addictions issues. His platform also includes streamlining the city’s permit process and improving roads and sidewalks.
• Brad Gross, a real estate agent with family ties to Charleswood, believes his professional experience will allow him to make sound financial decisions on the city’s behalf, with a goal of buying and holding greenspace and recreational properties. Gross has competed in every civic election since 2010. He ran for councillor of Old Kildonan in 2018, finishing last with 19 per cent support.
• Steven Minion says his “mission to enlighten the world” has led him to run for city council. The 31-year-old Charleswood resident promises to localize Winnipeg’s economy, socialize its community and “evolutionize” its environment.
• Gordon Penner, 57, was born and raised in Charleswood and works at Best Buy Homes. His key issues include transit, the environment and public safety. Penner’s website does not include specifics about his platform but provides contact information and asks voters to connect to learn more.
INCUMBENT: Cindy Gilroy is seeking her third term. Gilroy has run in each of Winnipeg’s civic elections since 2010 — a close second in her first attempt, and then securing and retaining the seat in 2014 and 2018. She won the most recent election with 57 per cent support, beating out two other candidates.
During her time in city hall, Gilroy became the first chairwoman of the property, development, heritage and downtown development committee. She has also sat on the executive policy committee, as part of Mayor Brian Bowman’s inner circle.
If re-elected, Gilroy will prioritize poverty reduction, climate change targets, affordable housing, road repair and Transit improvements.
• Sal Infantino owns X-Cues Cafe and Lounge at 551 Sargent Ave. He is a life-long resident of Daniel McIntyre who feels residents’ voices are left unheard. His platform features quality-of-life improvements, including increased snow-clearing efforts and garbage pick-ups, safer public spaces and more social resources to address addictions and mental health. Infantino has not previously run for council.
• Omar Kinnarath, also running for the first time, is the founder of the Mutual Aid Society, a non-profit organization that provides food hampers. He previously worked at SEED Winnipeg and organized a counter-protest when the so-called “freedom convoy” converged on Winnipeg’s legislative grounds. His platform includes setting term limits for city council, improving social resources and restricting suburban road construction.
INCUMBENT: Jason Schreyer is seeking a third term, after earning the seat in the 2014 and 2018 elections.
In 2014, Schreyer ousted former Winnipeg Jets player and incumbent Thomas Steen, who was facing domestic abuse charges during the campaign. Steen’s charges were later stayed.
In 2018, he edged out Robb Massey, his sole rival, by a margin of 1,076 votes. The race was the closest between an incumbent and challenger that year.
Schreyer has faced scrutiny during his time in council. Halfway through his first term, council suspended Schreyer’s city credit card, an automatic penalty for repeatedly filing his expenses late. Members of the EPC criticized the rookie councillor for charging $57,000 in personal expenses to the card. At the time, Schreyer told the Free Press he’d misunderstood how the card was supposed to be used and had paid back the charges in full.
He is the son of former Manitoba premier Ed Schreyer.
While he does not have a website detailing his platform, during an interview with the Free Press last month, Schreyer — who has served on the finance and water and waste committees — said construction inflation is government’s most pressing concern.
• Ryan Kochie, a 35-year-old chef and father of four, describes himself as an “average guy who works an average salary” and says he wants to help the city and his ward. He plans to prioritize support for community patrols to increase safety. He also hopes to increase accessibility and transit throughout the city. He has not previously run for council.
FORT ROUGE-EAST FORT GARRY
INCUMBENT: Sherri Rollins is seeking a second term in Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry.
During her time as councillor, Rollins has served on the multiple committees including finance as well as five business improvement zone boards. She is also a member of the executive policy committee, the mayor’s inner circle, as chair of protection, community services and parks.
Rollins plans to prevent public service cuts, grow recreation and economic development, and reduce crime and poverty.
Before becoming a councillor, Rollins was a senior advisor to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and chairperson for the Winnipeg School Division.
• Michael Thompson is trying again to earn a council seat, after unsuccessfully running against Rollins in 2018. Thompson studied computer science at the University of Manitoba before transitioning into a 25-year career at Western Canada Lottery Corporation. He now works at Allmar Inc., a company specializing in commercial and residential doors. He was among six candidates who ran against Rollins in 2018, finishing fifth with five per cent support. Thompson’s priorities include tackling homelessness, improving infrastructure and community growth, with a particular focus on downtown and infill housing.
INCUMBENT: First elected in 2010, Ross Eadie is running for his fourth term as councillor of Mynarski. Despite numerous competitors in the last three elections, Eadie has remained a favourite, trumping his challengers by thousands of votes. In 2018, he ran against three other candidates and earned 65 per cent support. His closest competitor came in at 17 per cent.
(Fun fact: mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk ran against Eadie in Mynarski in 2010, but finished second with 27 per cent support).
Eadie is being challenged by four candidates this year, none of whom have previously run for council.
He has filled several roles throughout his tenure, including sitting on the standing policy committee on protection, community services and parks for 12 years. He was an outspoken member of the Winnipeg Police Board from 2014 to 2018 until council voted to replace him, but he was re-appointed to the board earlier this year.
Eadie’s platform includes creating a property tax credit for low-valued homes, improving pay for city jobs and consolidating Winnipeg’s waste management services. He also is advocating for the implementation of frontage fees to finance infrastructure renewal.
• Aaron McDowell, Eadie’s longtime executive assistant, is running against the incumbent councillor after being dismissed from the position in June. Eadie said he planned to run for mayor this election, while McDowell intended to run for his open seat. When Eadie decided to run for council again, it sparked a disagreement between the two, he said. A Free Press reporter previously asked McDowell about the disagreement, but he declined to comment. McDowell’s platform focuses on reducing the number of derelict buildings occupying city streets, many of which become targets of arson, drug use and crime. He believes the city should take ownership of buildings that have legally qualified as derelict for 24 months.
• Retiree Ed Radchenka is also running in Mynarski, and tackling crime is a key priority for him. Radchenka has said he supports police Chief Danny Smyth and funding the Winnipeg Police Service, which accounts for 26.8 per cent of city spending.
• Candidate Steven Snyder works for Marymound, a youth resource centre on Scotia Street. Like Smith, he believes the city needs to address the root causes of social issues to reduce crime, addictions and homelessness. He also wants to encourage residents to create businesses and improve vacant lots by reducing rezoning fees.
• Natalie Smith, who has worked for NDP MLA Lisa Naylor and Point Douglas Coun. Vivian Santos, plans to reduce the police budget by 10 per cent and use “preventative measures” to confront poverty, addictions and homelessness, if elected. According to her campaign website, addressing root causes of homelessness and addictions will reduce crime and the strain on emergency services.
INCUMBENT: Jeff Browaty is seeking his fifth term on council, having represented North Kildonan since 2006. Last election, he faced one opponent and earned 77 per cent support.
In his 16 years on council, Browaty has served on numerous committees, including EPC. He is currently council’s finance chairman.
He spoke to the Free Press in September after the city announced it was likely to end the year with a $55.9 million tax deficit and $14.7 million transit shortfall — numbers that nearly quadruple previous predictions.
Browaty counts road maintenance as a top priority, pointing to the expansion of Chief Peguis Trail from Henderson Highway to Lagimodiere Boulevard as a key improvement in his ward.
He has spoken out against imposing large tax increases and suggested the city needs to refocus its priorities on key municipal responsibilities; ideas he’s floated include not expanding recreational services and not spending city money on items that fall primarily under provincial jurisdiction, such as housing.
• Andrew Podolecki, Browaty’s lone challenger, is running against the longtime councillor for a third time. In 2018, Podolecki garnered around 22 per cent of the votes. Recreational services are a top priority for Podolecki, who has also pledged to maintain funding for road repairs. He also supports drastic reductions in transit fares, charging residents $1 per ride while providing the service free of charge for minors and seniors. He’d also like to cap property taxes at five per cent per year and introduce a citywide compost program.
INCUMBENT: Coun. Devi Sharma will be acclaimed in her ward because nobody is running against her. Sharma has held the seat since she was first elected in 2010.
In 2018, Sharma ran against two other candidates and earned 57 per cent support. Her closest competitor came in at 23 per cent.
She has sat on numerous committees and was the first female speaker of council.
Sharma will focus on improving city services, transit and public safety. She hopes to upgrade Winnipeg’s greenspaces and invest in active transportation infrastructure during her next term.
INCUMBENT: Vivian Santos is running for a second term in Point Douglas after beating two contenders and earning roughly 57 per cent of her ward’s votes in the last election. She is the only Point Douglas candidate who has previously run for council.
During her time on council, Santos has brought numerous greenspace and recreational improvements to her ward. If re-elected, she hopes to reduce youth crime by continuing to support recreation and community services.
Santos is no stranger to controversy.
Santos once served as Winnipeg’s deputy mayor but was replaced by Markus Chambers in September of 2021 after she confirmed she was not vaccinated for COVID-19, citing an undisclosed medical reason.
In June 2020, council unanimously voted to appoint Santos to the Winnipeg Police Board, but she was forced to resign a month later after failing a security check, reportedly because of her friendship with an alleged drug trafficker. Santos told the Free Press her husband had previously loaned their friend vehicles, but she denied knowing anything about any possible illegal activity.
• Candidate Joe Pereira is a former real estate agent, who was banned from practising in the province last year after a Manitoba Security Commission panel found he defrauded and blackmailed clients. Pereira has acknowledged battling alcohol addiction, but said he’s been sober for more than two and a half years. He believes his experience will help him serve the residents of his ward, which is home to a high number of vulnerable people, many of whom rely on social agencies to survive. His top priorities are addressing homelessness and addictions, in part by developing four holistic treatment centres in Winnipeg.
• Moe El Tassi, a first-time council candidate, is president of Strata Supply, a community advocate and a civilian member of the Winnipeg Police Board. He was one of 12 Manitobans who received the Order of Manitoba this summer. El Tassi considers safety his first priority, but would also like to improve transit and economic development. Last month, El Tassi and his competitors held a public forum for Point Douglas residents, and he could not provide specifics about how he planned to improve the ward’s struggling economy.
RIVER HEIGHTS – FORT GARRY
INCUMBENT: John Orlikow is seeking his fourth term on council after being elected in a 2009 byelection. His first two election campaigns involved close, one-on-one races with competing candidates, but he was the frontrunner in a pack of three in 2018, easily winning the seat with 69 per cent support.
Orlikow has filled numerous roles on city council, including as deputy mayor, a member of EPC and chairman of property and development, heritage and downtown development.
Community centres, safety and greenspaces are among his priorities. If re-elected, he promises to fix streets and sidewalks and invest in local spray pads and play structures.
In February, Orlikow announced his intention to run for mayor but later changed his mind. The longtime councillor has been considering a run for mayor since at least 2013 and was an outspoken critic of former mayor Sam Katz.
• Brant Field, a construction project manager who previously trained as a lawyer, is making his first run for council against Orlikow. He promises to bring a “fresh, new perspective” to council. His priorities include improving road and waste infrastructure, supporting city and emergency services, protecting Winnipeg’s tree canopy and reducing property crime in the ward.
• Gary Lenko is running against John Orlikow for the second time after losing to him in the 2018 election, garnering just five per cent support. Lenko, a longtime west Fort Garry resident, ran a ballroom dance club before transitioning into home repair. His chief priorities include improving transparency at city hall by abolishing the EPC and improving multi-government communications. His platform also addresses infrastructure, transit, safety and housing.
INCUMBENT: Matt Allard hopes to take the St. Boniface council seat for the third time. First elected in 2014, he has garnered more support than any other candidate across all wards in the last two elections, with a collective vote total of 29,004 votes.
Allard formerly worked as an executive assistant to Liberal MP Dan Vandal, who held the ward’s seat before running federally.
He is a proponent of sustainability, active transportation, transit and oversite at city hall. He has been critical of the city’s planning and spending habits, traffic infrastructure and snow-clearing efforts.
His priorities include housing and safety.
• Challenging Allard for the second time is Marcel Boille, who went head-to-head with the incumbent councillor in 2018, ultimately falling short with around 17 per cent support. The 70-year-old realtor, who has lived in St. Boniface for 45 years, wants to see the ward separate from the city because he believes it has been stripped of its identity since it joined Winnipeg 50 years ago. He promises to increase development, crime reduction and road repair efforts in the community.
• Nicholas Douklias is the owner of Helios Restaurant at 241 St Mary’s Rd. and a first-time council candidate. He hopes to restore the public’s faith in city hall and act as an advocate for St. Boniface. As a volunteer with Société de la francophonie manitobiane, Entreprises Riel and the Norwood Business Improvement Zone, Douklias wants to give community groups a more influential voice. His platform lists crime, food security, services and greenspaces as priorities.
Five Winnipeggers are vying for the St. James council seat, which was vacated by two-term councillor Scott Gillingham after he announced he was running for mayor.
• Eddie Ayoub is the artistic director of Art City, a non-profit organization that provides art programming. He has a lengthy volunteer resume, including serving on the OurWinnipeg community advisory council, a 14-person citizen’s committee that helps guide the City of Winnipeg’s development priorities. Ayoub calls working for non-profits “the perfect training grounds” for city budgeting. His platform includes increasing street lighting, reducing residential speed limits and expanding youth programming. This is the first time he has run in Winnipeg’s civic election.
• Tim Diack is competing for the council seat after failing to overthrow Brian Bowman in the 2018 Winnipeg mayoral race. He finished a distant third with just under five per cent support. A 35-year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Service, Diack’s platform focuses on homelessness, crime reduction and transparency in city hall.
• Shawn Dobson previously represented the now-dissolved St. Charles ward, which was merged with the St. James and Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood wards in 2018. Dobson, a carpenter by trade, was elected to council in 2014, but was defeated by Gillingham four years later. Dobson, who has run in every civic election since 2002, believes his previous experience at city hall will give him an edge over his challengers. His priorities include fiscal responsibility, crime prevention and infrastructure repair. He has endorsed Gillingham for mayor.
• Daevid Ramey is a communications manager at IKEA and president of the Bourkevale Community Centre. He has been a vocal supporter of active transit infrastructure and is running on a platform that prioritizes infrastructure and greenspace renewal, community programming and crime reduction.
• Kelly Ryback might be familiar to football fans, having formerly played the part of Buzz in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers mascot duo Buzz and Boomer. Now retired, he previously worked as a businessman and call centre manager. According to his campaign website, Ryback has been a frequent visitor to city hall, appearing more than 20 times during council and committee meetings. He has dubbed his platform the “seven Ps”: pipes, pavement, parks, police, paramedics, poverty and performance.
ST. NORBERT-SEINE RIVER
INCUMBENT: Markus Chambers will be acclaimed as councillor for St. Norbert-Seine River, a position he has held since 2018.
During his tenure, Chambers has served on numerous committees and as deputy mayor. He currently chairs the Winnipeg Police Board. His priorities include infrastructure, transit, affordable housing safety, the environment and economic growth.
INCUMBENT: Home to more than 50,000 residents, St. Vital is Winnipeg’s most populous ward. Incumbent Brian Mayes has remained its representative since winning a 2011 byelection. Mayes, a real estate lawyer, beat out nine candidates vying to replace former councillor Gord Steeves, who resigned council to run unsuccessfully in that year’s provincial election.
During his tenure, Mayes has filled numerous roles, including sitting on the EPC, water and waste committee and Winnipeg Police board. Mayes resigned from the police board in March, deeming its relationship with city council “dysfunctional” and citing arguments over its ability to oversee the Winnipeg Police Service.
He has been widely supported in the last two elections, earning more collective votes than every councillor except St. Boniface’s Matt Allard. He won the previous election with 89 per cent support (14,388 votes).
Potholes, homelessness and the development of a community centre in Sage Creek are Mayes’ top priorities.
• Derrick Dujlovic is a Sage Creek resident and journeyman collision refinish technician. He says the city “has started to come apart at the seams” and is critical of the current council’s ability to communicate with residents. His priorities include public safety, greenspace conservation, road repair and infill development. He would also like to see funds diverted from the WPS budget and given to community organizations.
• Baljeet Sharma is running against Mayes for the second time. He lost to the incumbent in the 2018 election after securing only 10 per cent support (1706 votes). Sharma ran as an independent candidate in the 2019 provincial election losing to New Democrat Jamie Moses. Sharma’s priorities include fixing potholes, reducing homelessness, improving snow removal and reviewing Winnipeg’s photo radar program.
INCUMBENT: Shawn Nason hopes to spend another four years representing Transcona, having won the ward with 37 per cent support in a heavily contested 2018 race that had him competing against eight candidates.
In the previous election, Nason’s campaign prioritized recreational and greenspace development, and his future plans include more of the same. He would like to connect Chief Peguis Trail to Plessis Road and complete the East of the Red Recreational complex development on Transcona Boulevard.
Increasing public safety is also a concern for the incumbent, who says he would like to see a stronger police presence in the ward.
Transcona saw among the lowest crime rates in Winnipeg between June 2021 and June 2022, second only to Assiniboine South on the Winnipeg Police Service crime map.
However, the area around Regent Avenue and Stapon Road reported its highest crime rates since 2018, with 455 violent and non-violent offences — exceeding most other areas in the city.
Nason sought to dismantle a pair of bus shelters in the neighbourhood which had become sources of trouble, but the move was panned by critics and ultimately rejected by the EPC.
• Steve Lipischak ran against Nason in 2018 and is back for more, hoping to best his previous campaign in which he finished fourth with 14 per cent support. The 60-year-old marketing director is president of the Transcona Rotary and Transcona Legion board. His priorities are crime, homelessness, street repair and senior care.
• Wally Welechenko finished slightly ahead of Lipischak in the previous election, earning 16 per cent support. Welechenko does not have a campaign website or platform but participated in a Q and A forum by Open Democracy Manitoba, a non-profit that builds online election resources. He says he brings life experience to the table, positions himself as a relatable leader and calls politics an “untrustworthy” word. Crime, budgeting and traffic flow are his priorities.
• Russ Wyatt is coming for his old job. The former councillor held the ward from 2002 until 2018, surpassing his competitors in each election by thousands of votes. In January 2018, Wyatt took a leave from council to seek addictions treatment, returning in May of that year. Two months later, he was hit with a sexual assault charge. The charge was later stayed, and Wyatt maintained his innocence throughout, but he did not compete in that year’s civic election. Transcona saw numerous infrastructure and recreational developments during Wyatt’s time as councillor, including the construction of Transcona Boulevard, the Plessis underpass and the Transcona Aquatic Park. He promises to complete the long-proposed Ed Schreyer Parkway, and like Nason, plans to move forward with the East Red Rec complex.
INCUMBENT: Janice Lukes is seeking a third term on council. She was originally elected in the former Winnipeg South-St. Norbert ward before it became Waverley West. In 2018, she was acclaimed to council.
She has sat on the property and development committee and the innovation and economic development committee.
Her priorities in the upcoming election involve seeing through the development of a new recreation centre, a project for which she helped secure $90 million in provincial and federal funding.
She also plans to address crime, homelessness, addictions and strategic investments in roads.
• Contender Pascal Scott is running in his first civic election. He spent more than a decade working in property development and planning in Asia and believes his knowledge of global cities will help him make Winnipeg more functional. Reducing urban sprawl and road repair are Scott’s top priorities. He also plans to address social ills like poverty, homelessness and addictions.
Updated on Monday, October 24, 2022 10:54 AM CDT: Clarifies Browaty's suggestions.
Updated on Monday, October 24, 2022 12:50 PM CDT: typo fixed