September 15, 2019

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Mayor for a day

Writer Randy Turner and photographer Melissa Tait join Brian Bowman to see how the city’s new leader is adjusting to the job.

This article was published 2/1/2015 (1716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s 5 p.m. on a Monday when the mayor of Winnipeg settles behind his desk, looking over a few last pieces of correspondence before calling it a day.

“The calm after the storm,” he says.

But there was no storm, really. More of a whirlwind. Spending a day with Brian Bowman is to realize that if there is glamour at Winnipeg City Hall, we didn’t find it. Meetings? Oh, lots of those. Putting out a few fires, sure. Pose for some pictures? Hey, we’re talking about the Selfie Mayor here.

There is a lot of mundane in Monday. But when you ask Bowman about his aspirations, just a few weeks into office, he will tell you with a straight face: “Our goal is to change the political culture at city hall and, by extension, the province.”

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This article was published 2/1/2015 (1716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s 5 p.m. on a Monday when the mayor of Winnipeg settles behind his desk, looking over a few last pieces of correspondence before calling it a day.

"The calm after the storm," he says.

Mayor Brian Bowman at the first regular meeting of the new city council.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman at the first regular meeting of the new city council.

But there was no storm, really. More of a whirlwind. Spending a day with Brian Bowman is to realize that if there is glamour at Winnipeg City Hall, we didn’t find it. Meetings? Oh, lots of those. Putting out a few fires, sure. Pose for some pictures? Hey, we’re talking about the Selfie Mayor here.

There is a lot of mundane in Monday. But when you ask Bowman about his aspirations, just a few weeks into office, he will tell you with a straight face: "Our goal is to change the political culture at city hall and, by extension, the province."

There’s a mouthful. When you start talking openly about changing cultures even beyond your political boundaries — much less at a city hall mired in ethical and spending scandals of the Sam Katz administration — it can sound naive. Maybe even arrogant.

When a reporter suggests Bowman’s grasp may exceed his reach, he straightens up a little in his mayor’s chair.

"Why would I give up my (law) practice if I wasn’t going to aim big?" he asks. "Why would I waste my time. I don’t want the entire mandate to be about pipes and potholes.

"We’re really going to shake things up," Bowman continues. "You expose the warts. So there will be way more scrutiny on me."

Maybe that’s why Bowman’s handlers allowed a Free Press reporter and photographer to document a day in the mayor’s life. For that promised transparency, if only to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the dawn-to-dusk experience. 

Mayor for a Day

6:08:24 AM Just after 6 a.m., the kids still in bed and wife Tracy out on an icy run, Brian feeds his eight-year-old Labradoodle Indiana, who high-fives on command before he eats his breakfast.

And it begins not unlike any day for couple of working professionals raising two tykes in a Charleswood bungalow. Waking up to a sleepy city, where for the next four years Brian Bowman will hold the keys.

Tracy Bowman is geared up like a mountain climber — portable flashlight affixed to her tuque, spiked running shoes. Off for a brisk run, just like every morning. The boys, four-year-old Austin and older brother Hayden, 6, are still under their covers.

Tracy is an avid marathoner who on this pitch-black morning will run about 6-1/2 kilometres. "Not much," she says.

The mayor is not so inclined to join his wife of 10 years (as of Dec. 30). "She's a little hardier when it comes to jogging outside in the winter," Bowman concedes.

Instead, Bowman hops on a stationary elliptical trainer in the basement, jogging while watching the morning news. His first scheduled appointment is a spot on Citytv's Breakfast Television at 7 a.m. The clock is ticking.

The only other family member moving around the home is Indiana, an eight-year-old Labradoodle who is everybody's best friend.

 

Mayor for a Day

6:16:46 a.m. Brian was a competitive swimmer as a teenager and into university days. If he had more time, he says he'd still swim for morning exercise. But in the winter he's happy to run on the elliptical machine in his basement, and avoid the -8 C jog that his wife Tracy is currently running.

Mayor for a Day

6:39:31 a.m. Brian showered and dressed quickly in his three-piece suit after his morning workout, and placed belongings into a gym bag for the day.

Mayor for a Day

6:58:52 a.m. Both young Bowman boys are hard to rouse, according to Tracy. After a few hollers to wake from the kitchen went unanswered, Tracy took matters into her own hands and brought the youngest, four-year-old Austin, out to the table.

It's hard not to notice how the Bowmans, as parents, work as a unit. Even packing school lunches for the boys is a bit of an assembly-line process. Mom works on the sandwiches while Dad prepares smoothies (protein powder, ground flax, banana, avocado, honey, vanilla) as the sleepy-eyed boys emerge from their rooms.

The Winnipeg Jets clock in the kitchen reads 6:42 a.m. We will discover over the course of the day the new major has a penchant for Jets merchandise. He is drinking his coffee from a Jets mug. Before leaving home, he dons a Jets scarf and mittens. There is a Jets cookbook on the living room table. It goes on.

"I have a spending problem at the Jets store," Bowman says. "I think that's why (Jets co-owner Mark Chipman) endorsed me."

In fact, when Bowman admitted his soft spot for Jets gear to the owner, Chipman reportedly deadpanned: "I don't think that's a problem."

Mayor for a Day

7:00:00 a.m. Brian reads the day's newspapers and eats a breakfast of leftover pancakes and fruit, while Austin slowly wakes up.

Mayor for a Day

7:03:43 a.m. All four of the Bowman family members at the breakfast table. The eldest son Hayden, 6, joined the family for morning smoothies.

The kids eat their cereal and shakes. Bowman wolfs down some leftover pancakes and some fruit. Tracy, a marketing and communications specialist for a software development firm, prepares to drop Hayden and Austin off at school and preschool, respectively.

Bowman is already running late, when asked if his life has changed noticeably since assuming the mayor's chair and profile in early November. He notes that, unlike some mayors of similarly sized cities, he still often moves around in public, especially on downtime, without aides or security. But it's still early days.

"We're still working that out," he says. "That's an adjustment for me. You want to be accessible, but you want to have a life, too."

Bowman is out the door, slipping behind the wheel of a Honda Sport, with Winnipeg Blue Bombers licence plates.

"It's a different kind of busy," he adds, before leaving suburbia behind. "Now it actually matters."

Mayor for a Day

7:08:06 a.m. After quickly finishing his breakfast, Brian gets ready to leave while talking on the phone with staff member Erika Miller, who will meet him at the CityTV studio for a Breakfast Television appearance on his first 50 days in office.

Bowman is cruising down Grant Avenue as fast as the law will allow. The Breakfast Television interview was to cover the Bowman family's holiday tradition and to discuss his "100-day commitments."

He's already getting nervous about the first commitment: Making the interview.

"I'm so late," he says. "This is not good."

Bowman takes to Bluetooth to touch base with communications officer Carmen Barnett. She fills him in on a hostage-taking incident breaking in Australia, which may involve IS terrorists, just in case anybody asks. They go over the day's itinerary, which is jammed with meetings, a press conference, a tour of Transcona and a visit to a soup kitchen.

The call lasts only a couple of minutes.

As usual, Bowman has a Van Halen CD blasting. His affinity for heavy metal/hair bands is well-known. He wanted to use Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance as his campaign theme song — "We reviewed the lyrics. It's actually a really positive song," he reports — but decided against it.

When the boys are with him, Bowman says, Austin will pretend to be on drums, Hayden on air guitar.

Bowman has seen Van Halen perform live five times, the more recent concert at L.A.'s Staples Center.

"When I'm in the car," he explains over lead singer David Lee Roth, "I'll crank it. It's my mental escape."

(Author's note: Bowman's obsession with heavy metal should not be confused with his obsession for Star Wars, which he has seen an untold number of times. The Force is already strong in the two boys. "In our house," Bowman admits, "everything gets turned into a light sabre eventually.")

Bowman arrives at The Forks and sprints into the Citytv studio, where press secretary Erika Miller is waiting. Fortunately, the mayor is not officially late since the station is still running top-of-the-hour news and weather.

Mayor for a Day

7:47:40 a.m. Bowman starts his workday on the set of Breakfast Television at CityTV to talk about his first 50 days in office with Courtney Ketchen.

The interview is light and chatty. Bowman gives an overview of his first 50 days in office and mentions something about tube socks making lousy Christmas gifts.

Upon leaving the studio, the mayor points to the Inn at The Forks, where he held one-on-one meeting with every councillor in the wake of the civic election. Bowman says the view from the fifth-storey room was a skyline of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Esplanade Riel Bridge and the Goldeyes ballpark, with iconic Winnipeg intersection Portage and Main in the distance. He made a point of asking each councillor to survey the view and asked them to envision the same skyline 10 years from now.

"I wanted it to be more special than what we were looking at here," Bowman says. "That's a tall order. The point is, I want them to think big."

Go big or go home. It seems to be a theme for Bowman, a man on a mission.

If you don't get the reference, he will.

Mayor for a Day

8:07:20 a.m. After the interview, Bowman stops at Tall Grass Prairie to get cinnamon buns to take to the office.

Mayor for a Day

8:20:53 a.m. Bowman and staff Erika Miller arrive at the council building.

Mayor for a Day

8:31:58 a.m. First thing after arriving in the office, communications director Carmen Barnett touches base with Bowman before an 8:45 a.m. staff meeting.

The mayor's office is cavernous but warm. There is yet little evidence of the personality who sits behind the desk other than a hockey stick autographed by Jets forward Mark Scheifele. The stick, for the record, has been used as a light sabre.

As Bowman settles in for the day, someone asks if the reality of his new position — he quit his job as a privacy lawyer upon election — has taken root.

"Honestly, it hasn't hit me yet," he replies. "The first few days were so surreal. Even the swearing-in was just a blur. I hope I don't lose the 'wow' factor of realizing where we are."

Indeed, as a politician Bowman is still wet cement. He has yet to leave an impression or create one. That's what the next four years are all about. But his desire to transform the office, or at least stand out from politicians past, is palpable. Example: "For once I'd like to see a politician, any politician, say they made a mistake," he says. "When I screw up, which I will, I'll say 'I made a mistake.' "

Same goes for transparency. Bowman wants to reduce FIPPA (Freedom of Information Protection Privacy Act) requests by 25 per cent. He wants to open up the budget-making process (not this year, however) to not only outside experts but the general public, through consultation and new media.

Mayor for a Day

8:50:38 a.m. Bowman checks some paperwork while Barnett and Jana Thorsteinson (in white), director of community engagement, prepare for their morning staff meeting.

Mayor for a Day

9:02:51 a.m. The morning staff meeting also includes office manager Jeannine Stotski (in red) and chief of staff Jason Fuith.

Bowman's staff, for starters, includes two positions new to the mayor's office: Jana Thorsteinson, director of community engagement, and Johanna Wood, who is in charge of all things new media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

Thorsteinson's role is still evolving. Her job is to liaise between the mayor and community organizations, from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra to women's shelters. Why? Thorsteinson explains many politicians too often reach out only after an election has been called. Once the ballots have been counted, access, especially for smaller organizations, becomes non-existent. Or the mayor arrives late to a meeting and leaves early. It's called a drive-by, in political parlance.

Thorsteinson has known Bowman for two decades, dating back to her days raising awareness and funds for the University of Manitoba and (most recently) Red River College alumni associations.

Says Bowman: "I don't want to create a bubble in this office over four years. Her job is to keep me connected."

Thorteinson is still in the process of reaching out to community groups. Some might want an audience with the mayor, some money, some to pitch a proposal.

"We're all well aware there's a big job ahead," Thorsteinson allows. "There's a honeymoon stage, but I think we're being realistic."

Wood, meanwhile, monitors Bowman's Facebook page (brian.bowman.5268) and Twitter account (@Mayor_Bowman) and keeps the mayor abreast of what's trending, beginning with a morning briefing.

"We have a much more engaged audience," Wood says. "We don't just use the account to blast out. We also use it to listen. We try to show the human side of what we're doing here."

Without question, Bowman's embrace of new media contributed to raising his profile during the campaign. His willingness to pose for selfies has become Trudeau-esque.

In fact, Wood says that for events Bowman attends, his staff jokes about allowing for "selfie time," as their guy is almost always having what an older generation would call a Polaroid moment.

"I think it's great," Wood says. "We take a little heat. But it's better than the reverse, to have people feel you're not approachable."

Mayor for a Day

9:44:06 a.m. This being a Monday morning, Bowman spends much of the time during the staff meeting listening to reports on what happened over the weekend.

Mayor for a Day

9:44:44 a.m. After the staff meeting, Barnett and Bowman have a "clippings" meeting to discuss stories in the media. Today they discussed confusion from the previous Friday, Dec. 12, about Bowman's "things to do" versus "campaign promises" and how it played out on Twitter and online in the media.

Mayor for a Day

9:57:09 a.m. Bowman's iPhone is never far from reach. He also normally uses an iPad at his desk and on the go, but today it was in need of an update so he relied only on his phone.

For Wood and Thorsteinson, Bowman's election was a life-altering event. Both joined his campaign last summer out of past connections, personal skill set and loyalty. There wasn't any thought to grandiose political ambitions for anyone. After all, Bowman was sitting at about four per cent in the polls. He was past president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce with no political connections or resumé. Front-runners such as former MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Lies and former councillor Gord Steeves garnered most of the headlines, for better or worse.

So, few in the Bowman camp had any illusions of running a city. Thorsteinson was a fundraiser. Wood worked for a jeweller, after serving in the Armed Forces in a tank regiment. Bowman's now chief-of-staff, Jason Fuith, was an electrical engineer running his own design and development firm. They all quit their jobs when Bowman won.

Fuith, who first met Bowman when both entered Grade 9 at Shaftesbury High School, explains the similarity between his old field of engineering and problem-solving at city hall. Both involve "root cause analysis," he says, adding, "this isn't about just dollars and cents. It's dollars, cents and people."

Like Bowman, Fuith is 43, in the midst of a big career change, and getting acclimatized to the working of civic government. But he's quick to point out there is now 50 per cent new blood in council, too (seven councillors, one mayor).

"There's not a lot of council stuck in a certain mode of operating," Fuith says. "We're moving forward. We need to start focusing on the future. The shift, I believe I'm seeing that."

Fuith concedes to being an optimist when it comes to major initiatives, such as Bowman's pledge to develop six rapid-transit routes by 2030, but adds, "if you're going to make a difference anywhere, this is the place to do it."

That shiny-penny optimism has its place. But Bowman is quick to admit his relatively smooth transition is largely a product of staff members who formerly served Sam Katz.

"Literally, they give you the keys and say, 'All the best!' " the Mayor of Transparency says. "If all of us came in green, we'd be screwed. We wouldn't have a clue."

Mayor for a Day

10:10:20 a.m. Staff are far more likely to talk to Bowman in his office than for Bowman to visit them. But over the course of Monday, Bowman was in the staff area a few times.

Mayor for a Day

10:31:14 a.m. New media officer Johanna Wood returns with information so Bowman can offer a personal Twitter message about a hostage crisis that had started earlier that morning in Sydney, Australia.

Mayor for a Day

10:40:02 a.m. Bowman talks at his desk with chief of staff Jason Fuith

Mayor for a Day

10:42:20 a.m. A common sight in the Mayor's office: staff members approach Bowman to discuss an issue or schedule plans for the day.

Mayor for a Day

10:56:44 a.m. Part of the duties of being mayor includes signing lots of documents, including birth congratulations.

Mayor for a Day

11:05:43 a.m. The red binders — which Tracy Bowman joked must be 100 years old — are filled with printed emails for Bowman to read, documents to sign and other communications.

Mayor for a Day

11:07:17 a.m. Bowman eats his lunch (a ham sandwich made by Tracy the night before) at his desk while he scans social media.

Mayor for a Day

11:15:28 a.m. Before leaving for his first public appearance of the day after lunch, Bowman pops in on a staff meeting in chief of staff Jason Fuith's glass-walled office.

Mayor for a Day

11:20:00 a.m. Bowman walks the tunnels under the Civic Centre with Johanna Wood and Erika Miller to the Sport for Life Centre, for the Winnipeg-hosted 2017 Canada Games event-date announcement.

At the morning staff meeting, the upcoming budget is atop the agenda.

"January is going to be nuts," Fuith warns, of wall-to-wall budget meetings. "FYI, that includes evenings and weekends."

In fact, one of the pillars of Bowman's election campaign was to promise to limit property tax increases to the rate of inflation. Those are the confines of his budget goals, but the reality upon seeing the books has the mayor concerned.

"I think it's going to be the most difficult budget we (the city) have had to deliver," he says.

When someone suggested that sounded ominous, Bowman replies: "It is."

The rest of the day is a blur. Everything is scheduled down to the minute, including reminding Bowman to eat.

At one point, Fuith tells Bowman, "We need to be leaving in five minutes. We need to be walking in two."

Says Bowman, of the need for constant clock-watching: "We couldn't do it otherwise."

Mayor for a Day

11:23:52 a.m. Bowman laughs with St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes when they meet up on Lily Street on their way to the Sport for Life Centre.

Mayor for a Day

11:36:53 a.m. Bowman laughs with Mariette Mulaire, co-chair of 2017 Canada Summer Games host society, at the Canada Games dates announcement in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Mayor for a Day

11:53:03 a.m. Bowman makes remarks at the podium on the Year of Sport 2015 and the 2017 Canada Summer Games hosted in Winnipeg.

Mayor for a Day

11:53:35 a.m. Eyes of the media on Bowman as he makes remarks at the podium on the Year of Sport 2015 and the 2017 Canada Summer Games hosted in Winnipeg.

Mayor for a Day

12:25:19 p.m. Bowman and Johanna Wood hustle across Main Street on their way to Siloam Mission after leaving the Sport of Life Centre. Bomwan says he's annoyed by walking slowly, and is always leading the staff at a brisk pace.

Mayor for a Day

12:36:47 p.m. Bowman serves up food for clients at Siloam Mission with Point Douglas MLA Kevin Chief, who is also the minister responsible for the City of Winnipeg. The mayor and Chief are often seen enjoying each other's company in public.

Mayor for a Day

1:27:37 p.m. Back at his desk after the public appearances, Bowman scans the printed emails his staff have selected for him to read. He says losing control of his work email inbox has been one of the hardest transitions to mayor. He can't personally handle all of the email that comes in, so staff filter the important emails, print them out and place them in the red binder.

One notable stop is Bowman's meeting with the executive from United Way of Winnipeg. One of his first acts as mayor was to get council's approval on funding the agency $150,000 a year as part of the city's effort to end homelessness in 10 years. Bowman says the initiative is not only critical to Winnipeg's development, but runs contrary to those who "paint me as a heartless right-winger."

Homelessness and poverty, says Bowman, were also top priorities he encountered from voters at their doorsteps.

"I'll be held to account, which is a good thing," he says. "This is really important to Winnipeg's success. We can't just give them lip service."

Safe to say it's much too early to pigeon-hole Bowman yet. A lawyer with close ties to the business elite — the aforementioned endorsement from Chipman was a pivotal moment in his campaign — Bowman stresses his first act as mayor was to end severance for councillors (defeated) and cut ward expenditures (passed).

The most doubt about Bowman — and he's heard the question: Is he tough enough? Is he a guy who looks good in a suit and poses, literally, for the camera? Any camera.

Bowman will tell you there wasn't much smiling in his office when he brought councillors in to propose ending their severance and cutting their expenditures.

Then there's the election. How can you go from four per cent to 47 per cent in the polls, he suggests, without getting your elbows up? "People throw punches at you," he says. "It gets personal."

Bowman threw some back, too, especially at Wasylycia-Leis, considered the Great Left Hope of the campaign.

Mayor for a Day

1:34:37 p.m. After finishing up some paperwork, Bowman is picked up at City Hall by Trancona Coun. Russ Wyatt for a guided tour (in a borrowed SUV) of some selected sites in Transcona.

Mayor for a Day

1:40:17 p.m. The mayor and chief of staff Jason Fuith inside the SUV on their way to Transcona. Fuith took notes on the tour, as the tour was meant to introduce the newbie mayor and staff to projects in Transcona - a ward far from Bowman's home of Charleswood.

Mayor for a Day

2:03:42 p.m. The first stop on the tour of Transcona was the new CN Campus, which opened in September 2014 to train CN employees from across Canada. Bowman got a chance to take a seat in an engine simulator.

Mayor for a Day

2:38:17 p.m. Transcona tour continues.

Mayor for a Day

2:43:16 p.m. One of at least two dozen group photos Bowman took part of during this day, here with Wyatt and people involved with the East End Community Centre expansion.

Mayor for a Day

2:54:40 p.m. On the third tour stop Bowman met Paul Martin, a 94-year-old Second World War veteran and former mayor of Transcona. This stop was to view the new Transcona Centennial Square.

Mayor for a Day

3:33:23 p.m. Late afternoon light on Bowman as the Transcona tour wraps up, and time is tight for his 4 p.m. meeting at the United Way offices for the End Homelessness initiative.

Mayor for a Day

3:53:10 p.m. Chief of staff Jason Fuith has Wyatt drop Bowman off at the United Way offices so he can make it in time for the meeting. Before he heads upstairs, it's another group photo with clothing donations to the United Way.

Mayor for a Day

4:52:54 p.m. Bowman is approached by chief of staff Jason Fuith and communications director Carmen Barnett about an issue raised by media on Twitter about (now-retired) city property director Barry Thorgrimson's involvement in the 2012 land swap deal for fire-paramedic stations. Barnett relays Free Press reporter Bartley Kives' requests for comment on Thorgrimson.

Despite his own lofty expectations, it's too soon to determine if Bowman will reach those of the voters. After the election, Bowman said he canvassed some of his supporters to ask what they would expect of him.

Chipman, for example, told Bowman, "Just be honest." That's it. As opposed to the one guy who — even before Bowman took the podium in victory — shoved a card in his hand and said, "I got you 80 votes. You owe me."

Fuith, for one, says perceptions and promises will give way to what actually unfolds.

"People see the smiley face," he says. "There's a funny misconception that he's (too nice for the job). For anybody that thinks he can't, you don't know him. You know, there was a lot of emotions spilled over (the proposed severance cuts). Did he waver? No.

"At the end of the day, it will be a case of 'just watch him.' "

Mayor for a Day

5:02:48 p.m. After Bowman and his staff discuss a response on the issue with Thorgrimson, the mayor continues looking at additional paperwork before the end of the work day.

Mayor for a Day

5:06:51 p.m. Chief of staff Jason Fuith prepares to leave for the day, having a final chat through the office doorway with Mayor Bowman.

Mayor for a Day

5:55:45 p.m. So far on an average day with no night commitments (three times a week the mayor commits to public appearances), Bowman says he can leave between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., though some days go until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m..

Mayor for a Day

5:57:26 p.m. Mayor Bowman leaves City Hall for the day.

 

After leaving the office, Bowman has one more errand.

Wife Tracy needs an "ugly" Christmas sweater for the office party, so the mayor has to go shopping at Target.

An observer wonders about the reaction to Bowman, unannounced and unassuming in a public place. Just another middle-aged guy looking for a sweater.

Maybe it was the notoriety of a recent campaign. Maybe it's the social media. But Bowman is immediately identified by a gaggle of clerks who spread about the store to find the ugliest sweater possible. And failing that, gaudy decorations to adorn a simple red sweater.

Customers point. Two teenagers stand in a clothing section, gawking. The boy says, "We should get a picture with him." The girl replies: "I already have one."

Mayor for a Day

6:39:38 p.m. The Bowman Labradoodle, Indiana, waits for him to arrive home.

Mayor for a Day

6:47:14 p.m. Brian arrives home and says hello to Indiana after picking up ugly-sweater makings for his wife Tracy.

Mayor for a Day

6:48:47 p.m. Brian greets to his youngest son, Austin.

Mayor for a Day

6:57:40 p.m. The Bowman family enjoys using the fireplace in the winter. Brian splits some wood in the backyard.

Mayor for a Day

7:04:59 p.m. After the fire is lit, the Bowman brothers start acting up.

Mayor for a Day

7:07:12 p.m. Bowman says he tries to keep away from his phone and email during dinner, but is still caught checking here and there.

Mayor for a Day

7:12:38 p.m. Austin runs to join Hayden at the dinner table.

Mayor for a Day

7:19:35 p.m. The family at dinner, reflected in a steamy kitchen window.

Mayor for a Day

7:19:58 p.m. Brian and Tracy share a moment during dinner. Tracy is marketing and communications director at Protegra, a Winnipeg-based software company.

Mayor for a Day

7:32:56 p.m. Austin hugs his dad during dinner.

Back home, however, Bowman is a husband who has chores and the father of two boys who have no concern for his title. At one point, a visitor asked Tracy if she had yet to refer to her husband as His Worship. After she stopped laughing, she demurred, "No."

Once the supper dishes are cleared (salmon, rice, vegetables), it's time to trim the tree.

Says Bowman, trying to contain two Santa-crazed boys: "How much patience does the mayor have? You're about to see."

The mayor shoves in a Van Halen CD. Panama. Already sensing opposition, he announces, "When your mother comes in, she can change it."

Moments later, she does. The guitar riffs of Eddie Van Halen are replaced by the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Mayor for a Day

7:38:31 p.m. After dinner the family sets to decorate the Christmas tree that had been erected the day before, but not yet decorated. Brian puts Van Halen on the stereo, much to the dislike of his sons who insist he play Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Mayor for a Day

7:38:51 p.m. Hayden throws a faux-tantrum when Brian refuses to change Van Halen to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Eventually Brian broke down and allowed the Christmas music to be played. He noted Tracy could listen to Christmas music six months of the year.

Mayor for a Day

7:40:50 p.m. The Bowman boys prepare the Christmas decorations in the family room of their Charleswood home.

Mayor for a Day

7:43:51 p.m. The Bowman sons check out decorations from the classic movie A Christmas Story, including Ralphie dressed in a bunny costume.

Mayor for a Day

7:51:58 p.m. Brian lifts the youngest Austin on his shoulders.

Mayor for a Day

8:17:11 p.m. Teethbrushing!

Mayor for a Day

8:19:19 p.m. Hayden is calmed by Brian after getting upset he lost a race with Austin back to the sofa to read a story.

Mayor for a Day

8:23:47 p.m. The family regularly reads stories on the couch in the living room, rather than in the boys' bedrooms.

The tree is decorated, the boys are read a story nestled on the couch, and off to bed.

The Bowmans are usually close behind, calling it a night at around 9:30. "Anything after 11 p.m. for us is a wild, crazy night," he says.

The immediate future is a week off over Christmas, making an outdoor rink in the backyard, drinking some wine and keeping the living room fireplace lit.

Mayor for a Day

8:36:14 p.m. - After the kids are in bed, and before the mayor checks in on email around 9 p.m., Tracy and Brian sit together in the family room.

The reporter and photographer pack up to leave around 9 p.m. At the door, the Bowmans bid their farewells.

"We should do this again in four years," Bowman offers. "You know, by that time we might have the answers to some of those questions you asked."

Can Bowman still retain that "wow" factor sitting behind a desk that for some must become a burden? Can he really change the political culture at city hall, much less beyond? Can he become a champion of government transparency, or will Bowman just be remembered as another politician who promised change, only to change himself?

Who will be four years the wiser? The mayor, or those who elected him?

Consider the invitation accepted.

Randy Turner

Randy Turner
Reporter

Randy Turner spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.

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History

Updated on Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 11:57 AM CST: Corrects typo.

2:50 PM: Adds text.

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