Election date is October 26
Fourteen citizens have put their names forward for mayor, some of them virtually unknown and a handful with some experience. All come with a litany of promises for a better Winnipeg but few of their ideas are based on any real experience or knowledge of how the city works. Most of the proposals fit the category of wishes with no credible plan to deliver. That is understandable if you are basing your plans by looking from the outside in.
Three of the candidates have been inside, however: former mayor (18 years ago), Glen Murray; current sitting councillor and finance chair, Scott Gillingham; and current sitting councillor and former chair of the Police Board, Kevin Klein. Two others have had some political experience: former MP and mayoralty nominee, Robert Falcon-Ouellette and former leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, Rana Bokhari.
The others include another former candidate for mayor, Jennifer Motkaluk, and seven other individuals: Don Woodstock, Christopher Clacio, Rick Shone, Shaun Loney. Idris Ademuyiwa Adelakum, Desmond Thomas, Jessica Peebles, and Govind Thawani.
Not to disparage the campaign of any hopeful (and there are some very fine people vying for the position), the three with council experience are likely to be in the top of the run.
Of these three, my money is on Kevin Klein. Why? Because his platform shows a depth of understanding about corporate structure, good management, and corporate reform that the others lack. He combines this with lived experience as a person who made a life for himself from nothing, building a career as a corporate problem solver and by living life as a compassionate individual who completely understands the plight of the homeless and those whose chances of success are slim to none.
Growing up as one of three kids with a single mother who had her own challenges, Kevin had to learn early to fend for himself. His mother’s murder by her partner at age 42, shortly after becoming a registered nurse, solidified his determination to take her advice and keep on fighting, to never give up.
In his business life, he worked closely with North America’s top corporate leaders both in the C-suite as a top executive and CEO and later he spent several years responding to requests to help solve internal structural problems for major companies. He was a finalist in Canada’s Top Forty under Forty.
To complement his corporate success, Kevin’s personal experience has been all about giving back, teaching Tae Kwon Do (he has a three degree black belt) to kids from the inner city, coaching and refereeing hockey, and being father to a blended family of six in his spare time. On City Council he served as Chair of the Winnipeg Police Board until he resigned out of the frustration of being merely a pawn in a greater scheme where the strings were pulled by the current Mayor.
Platform: Demand accountability from staff through management reforms, encourage councillors to be more engaged and involved, and including them in the budgeting process; ditch EPC; remove barriers to investment and development, including changes to permitting, to encourage growth of the tax base; keep the helicopter but revise police budget to put more officers on the streets and to remove city’s artificial claw backs (which currently leaves police only about 15% of the total “budget” for operations) and use savings to hire cadets; utilize empty city-owned buildings to house homeless and get them out of transit shelters; target the six bus routes where transit safety is an issue, focus on strategies for clean green streets, and rationalize the infrastructure maintenance and street repair system.
Former mayor, Glen Murray was born and educated in Montreal. When he came to Winnipeg, he worked in social services. He was elected to City Council in Winnipeg in 1989 and was elected Mayor in 1998. Midway through his second term in 2004, he resigned as mayor to make an unsuccessful bid for Parliament for the Liberal party.
Defeated by Conservative Stephen Fletcher, he then moved to Ontario where he was appointed by Paul Martin to the Round Table on the Environment and Economy. In 2010, he ran successfully for the Ontario Legislature, serving for seven years and resigning in his second term to run for leader of the Ontario Liberal party in 2017. When that failed, he announced that he would run for the leadership of the Green Party but was again unsuccessful. He then spent one year as executive director of the Pembina Institute Alberta from 2017 to 2018, when he returned to Winnipeg.
In all, he says, he has spent 35 years in politics.
Platform: Mobilize communities to combat crime, ground the helicopter and replace it with drones; expand neighbourhood programs to address crime, gangs, drug houses; deal with vacant houses, build more recreation centres; offer employment to inner city youth and advocate as mayor for reducing absenteeism from schools; review City governance plan (a review has just been completed); improve bus safety with better communication equipment, bigger safety shields for drivers; safety training and the ability to call 911 when in trouble.
Scott Gillingham is a very well-liked, two-term City Councillor and a trusted member of Mayor Bowman’s inner circle on the powerful EPC (Executive Policy Committee). Prior to his election to Council, Scott was Pastor of Grace Community Pentecostal Church and a part time student at the Canadian Mennonite University. He ran as a Progressive conservative candidate in the 2011 election, losing to NDP Deanne Crothers in St. James.
He was elected to Council is 2014 and returned in 2018. Prior to putting his hat in the ring for mayor, he publicly mused about making a bid for premier when Brain Pallister stepped down last year but abandoned the idea after making the usual inquiries about support. Scott is 46.
According to the CMU Community Alumni blog, Scott “believes it is every Christian’s responsibility to be involved in the political process.” He was chair of the city Finance committee from 2016, until he stepped down in May of this year to run for Mayor.
Platform: Increase funding by 25% a year to 311, more robotic interaction and allow some departments to respond individually. Axe the two extra people of EPC, freeze police funding, and sit on Police Board as chair, hire a homeless and safety advisor, create three “Community Action Teams” of 10 people each to do work the city employees don’t get done (“plant, plow, patch, cut clean, move and mend”); build two temporary homeless shelters, have city plant two trees for every one removed.
Robert Falcon-Ouelette: Former MP and mayoralty candidate, Robert would restore trust in City Hall by electing members of EPC; freeze the police budget and create a Community Safety and Innovation Fund to deal with addictions; review the Police Board; encourage development of empty lots and downtown surface parking.
Rana Bokhari: Former leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, Rana would put a surcharge on vacant homes, dedicate $100 million for youth programs; buy electric passenger vans for service to non-bus routes and work to create a net zero emission city.
Shaun Loney: Wants to install thousands of solar panels on city-owned structures, speed up building permits; focus on net zero and relocate the rail lines away from the centre of town.