There is a new face representing Transcona in the provincial Legislature.
On Sept. 10, New Democratic Party candidate Nello Altomare defeated the incumbent Progressive Conservative candidate Blair Yakimoski by a scant 115 votes.
"It’s such a humbling experience, that every poll was so close," Altomare said. "It’s a testament to the people of Transcona respecting both candidates, and knowing that either way we would have been well represented."
Altomare credited his campaign volunteers for delivering the NDP’s message to voters in the Park City.
"We only won because we knocked on thousands of doors," he said. "(Voters) decided it was time for the NDP. We’re known as guardians of health care and public services. That message resonated with our residents here in Transcona, and I’m happy to carry that to the (Legislature)."
Yakimoski, a former owner of a local IGA grocery store, was first elected MLA for Transcona in 2016. On Sept. 10, Yakimoski received 3,914 votes to Altomare’s 4,029.Requests for comment from Yakimoski were not returned at press time.
It’s such a humbling experience, that every poll was so close.
Dylan Bekkering, the Manitoba Liberal Party candidate, received 733 votes in the election.
A former teacher and administrator who spent 32 years in the Transcona-Springfield and River East Transcona School Divisions, Altomare grew up in Transcona the son of Italian immigrants. He graduated from Transcona Collegiate Institute before pursuing bachelors degrees in education and arts from the University of Winnipeg and completing post-graduate studies at the University of Manitoba.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Altomare is passionate about education.
"I’m loath to be partisan, but we’ve seen what has happened in health care, and I don’t want to see that happen to education," Altomare said.
"We will be strong advocates for a public system that is well funded. We need to ensure we have services available to families, not only when they need them, but be able to advocate for their children’s education. We will help them with that."
First and foremost, though, Altomare said that he and his fellow NDP MLAs — which include Matt Wiebe (Concordia) and Jim Maloway (Elmwood) in northeast Winnipeg — will be working to "stabilize" the health care system.
"We need the government to understand you can’t cut first and then ask questions later," he said. "Let’s ask questions first, listen to front line workers, and make adjustments if need be. We’ll certainly hold the government to account."
Along with regaining Transcona, the NDP enjoyed a stronger showing in 2019 than in 2016. While Altomare admitted that was heartening, he said he and his party need to be focused on the "here and now."
"I’m just focused on what’s in front of me, today," he said. "You build the party by working every day. It’s literally one person at a time. We can’t skip ahead."
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112