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This article was published 9/8/2019 (234 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jonathan Niemczak is hoping to convince voters in River Heights that a fresh face can be a welcome change.
Niemczak, 31, is running for Member of the Legislative Assembly in River Heights with the Manitoba New Democratic Party in the 42nd general provincial election on Sept. 10.
Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard has held the seat since 1999 and is running again for the sixth time.
"Twenty years of public life is something to be very proud of and it is very admirable that he has done it. I know it’s not easy," Niemczak said. "It might be time now for someone new to come in, someone fresh, someone young who can take River Heights into the next term in the legislature."
Niemczak, who works a nine to five job at Manitoba Hydro, served as volunteer president of Pride Winnipeg for six years and stepped away from the position in 2018, after a total of 10 years with the organization.
The longtime NDP supporter — Niemczak says he was raised in a NDP household — remained non-partisan during his time with Pride Winnipeg but after leaving the organization has become a proud card carrying member.
"I worked very closely with the NDP, especially the Minister of Education at the time, Nancy Allan, when she introduced Bill 18 (the Public Schools Amendment Act — Safe And Inclusive Schools)," Niemczak said. "And through that collaboration, I really started to admire the party in terms of what they stood for, and in the GSRD (gender, sexual, and relationship diverse) community, how much support they placed on it."
Niemczak initially let his name stand for NDP nomination in the new riding of Union Station, where he resides, but was unsuccessful in that pursuit.
"I know that River Heights deserves a strong voice, strong leadership, and I figured I’m that person," Niemczak said. "I’ve always had this urge to do some form of community service. I’ve been volunteering all my life since I was 13, and in my capacity with my advocacy for GSRD issues, I realized I have a drive and a passion to serve communities and people."
Of the items promoted on the NDP platform, Niemczak said he is most enthusiastic about making life in Manitoba more affordable, while also keeping on the "same track that the Pallister government has in terms of battling the deficit and in terms of balanced budgets."
"I see the challenges that folks face on a day-to-day basis when a government is not making life more affordable for folks. It ends up putting them into challenging positions in terms of what they have to prioritize for their lives," Niemczak said.
While other parties have talked about re-opening the Victoria General Hospital emergency room, Niemczak said the NDP could not commit to following that path. However, Niemczak said changes to the province’s health care has created new obstacles for frontline workers and patients and would support reopening Concordia and Seven Oaks emergency rooms.
Also running in River Heights are Green Party candidate Nathan Zahn, Jon Gerrard for the Liberals, and Susan Boulter for the Progressive Conservatives.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.