July 18, 2018

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Pagtakhan, Wyatt won't run in fall civic election

Mike Pagtakhan has been a member of Mayor Brian Bowman’s executive policy committee, chairing the protection, community services and parks committee. (Boris Minkevich / Free Press files)</p></p>

Mike Pagtakhan has been a member of Mayor Brian Bowman’s executive policy committee, chairing the protection, community services and parks committee. (Boris Minkevich / Free Press files)

It was a day of surprise announcements at city council Thursday, where two veteran councillors said they would not run for re-election in the fall, and a former councillor said he will join the race.

Two councillors first elected in 2002 announced — separately — they won't be running for re-election in October's civic election.

Mike Pagtakhan, who represents the inner-city Point Douglas ward, was first out of the starting gate at the start of Thursday's monthly council meeting.

Following the lunch break, Transcona's Russ Wyatt said he, too, would not run for re-election.

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It was a day of surprise announcements at city council Thursday, where two veteran councillors said they would not run for re-election in the fall, and a former councillor said he will join the race.

Two councillors first elected in 2002 announced — separately — they won't be running for re-election in October's civic election.

Mike Pagtakhan, who represents the inner-city Point Douglas ward, was first out of the starting gate at the start of Thursday's monthly council meeting.

Following the lunch break, Transcona's Russ Wyatt said he, too, would not run for re-election.

"I’ll still be around for the next few council meetings," Pagtakhan said. "You never really know when it’s time to go, but I think I’m leaving on a high note. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life."

Pagtakhan has been a member of Mayor Brian Bowman’s executive policy committee, chairing the protection, community services and parks committee.

When Wyatt made his announcement, he joked while he's been known to change his mind from time to time, his decision was firm. Wyatt refused to discuss his decision with the media but sent the Free Press a text later in the evening saying "I am contemplating a run for mayor. That you can quote me on."

It has been an eventful few months for the Transcona ward councillor. In March, he disclosed after taking an unexplained leave of absence from council in January, he'd been in rehab at a Gimli-area facility to deal with drug and alcohol addictions.

After returning to council last month, he came out as bisexual during Pride Winnipeg's parade festivities.

"It’s been an amazing journey," he told council Thursday, adding politics is in his blood.

During the delegation portion of the meeting, former councillor Garth Steek (1995-2004) said he would seek his old seat of River Heights-Fort Garry, which is held by Coun. John Orlikow.

Russ Wyatt joked that while he's been known to change his mind from time to time, his decision was firm. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)</p>

Russ Wyatt joked that while he's been known to change his mind from time to time, his decision was firm. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)

Steek went to council to criticize the internal audit that cleared City of Winnipeg chief administrative officer Doug McNeil and Coun. Marty Morantz of any wrongdoing in their involvement in the controversial south Charleswood corridor project.

Steek was critical of how the audit had been done and how no questions had been asked of the former director of public works, Lester Deane (who told the CBC in December McNeil's office was aware of the new route proposed through south Charleswood).

Steek resigned his councillor position in 2004 to run in the byelection for mayor to replace Glen Murray (ultimately won by Sam Katz).

The registration period for candidates for ward council begins June 30.

So far, three councillors have said they won't be running for re-election. Jenny Gerbasi, the longest serving councillor, first elected in 1998, who represents Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, made a similar announcement earlier.

It's also possible Morantz won't be around for the October election, too. He's making a bid for the federal Conservative nomination for the 2019 election, and he's suggested he wouldn't run for his Charleswood council seat if he wins the federal party nomination.

Pagtakhan said he has accomplished much of what he set out to do when first elected in 2002.

"I think I’ve left in the ward in a really good position," he told reporters. "When I first decided to run for office, the neighbourhood was up in flames; there were houses burning monthly, weekly. It was unbelievable.

"I ran in my neighbourhood wanting to make positive changes — clean up the playground, make sure there were enough police officers for safety, creating recreational opportunities for kids. We’ve done that."

Pagtakhan said he also doesn’t have definite plans on what he will do next. He was working at Manitoba Hydro as a specifications and contracts writer when he took a leave to take a run at municipal politics. He said he'll look into whether there’s a position open for him at the Crown corporation.

Pagtakhan said there are ongoing concerns for his ward he will monitor after he leaves office.

"There are still issues here that are important to me," he said. "I will still be very active... Community service and public service is in my blood. While I will not be (a) city councillor come Oct. 24, I still plan on making a presence here at city hall and being involved in several municipal issues."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 3:58 PM CDT: tweaks headline

7:25 PM: Final version

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