The race for Winnipeg’s new mayor is gaining momentum and all will be decided by press time next month, but as of the last week in September, we see Glenn Murray falling fast from, 41% to 33%, and Scott Gillingham hanging on to the 15% he has had from the start. Kevin Klein on the other hand, has been gradually climbing and is now in the number two spot at 18.5%. Two separate polls conducted a week apart, confirmed this at time of writing. Kevin Klein seems to be winning the hearts and minds of everyday Manitobans at his frequent town hall meetings throughout the city.
Now, 20 years after his last truncated stint as mayor, Murry hopes to pick up where he left off. But the city has changed tremendously since then and he is completely out of touch.
Of concern should be his inability to stick to matters when the going gets tough. He has left several political posts in pursuit of better things, at which he failed, and which brought him limping home to Winnipeg four years ago thinking he would run for mayor again but stymied by Bowman’s decision to stick it out.
Murray is running on name recognition, hoping that old political baggage doesn’t catch up with him and burst the bubble he has created around himself on the stays of that magical bridge. The bridge may be pretty, but it also has a million-dollar bathroom sitting unused in a deserted restaurant that doesn’t work because it is so far from a place to park in our brutal winters. This illustrates the problem with him as the mayor. He pledges to make the whole city “pretty again” but if it falls apart instantly because of bad planning, all Winnipegger will be left with is a whopping big bill.
On a positive note? He is charming and a good speaker.
Gillingham, on the other hand, has a very inflated view of his own abilities. He served for eight years as finance chair and Brian Bowman’s right hand boy. But during that time, his rubber stamp budgeting reduced the city’s $120-million rainy day reserve fund to less than $20 million. He says his main talent is to form coalitions and make people like him. That is fine, but our city is in an unholy mess, and it needs an understanding of finances, good management practices and tough, determined leadership to set it right.
Gillingham’s ego also led him to declare his intention to jump from city hall into the leadership and premiership of the PC Party. When the Party didn’t rush to embrace him, he had some very rough words, including those in this report from CBC*: “It has become clear to me and to others that my party — the Progressive Conservative Party — has become oblivious, indifferent or even contemptuous when it comes to the advice, the experience and the partnership offered by local officials, local communities and local leaders across Manitoba, regardless of their party affiliation or what community they’re from,” he said in a statement. He had even harsher things to say in a tweet at the time, but that has been taken down. He also said that said he considered a run as leader “to improve the government’s relationships with stakeholders.” Huh? The arbiter between the people and whom?
Gillingham has no leadership or financial experience (he was a pastor for 12 years before being elected) and right now, we need someone who understands business and knows how to get things working. Among his sillier ideas was to continue to increase the budget of 311 by 25% a year until the wait time came down to three minutes. Talk about financial management!
On the positive side? According to some who know him, he is a nice guy.
So, what about Kevin Klein? I openly declare my bias in his favour, but that bias is based on his track record and his continuing determination to make thing work at City Hall, despite fierce resistance that put him on the outside with other outspoken councillors such as Janice Lukes and Shawn Nason. So far, I haven’t seen any policy announcement that I consider frivolous or impossible because behind each pronouncement he has a plan based on careful examination of the problem and its likely solutions.
No doubt some of these plans are subject to change along with changing times and circumstances but I have confidence that he has the wisdom to see when changes are required and that he is not the type of leader who will dig in his heels just because something is “his idea”.
I am particularly excited about his vision for the city. It is bold and refreshing but imminently doable and within reasonable fiscal constraints.
Are there no negatives? Of course, there are. Kevin is intense and he is a workaholic. He is earnest and, in his earnestness, he sometimes forgets to curb his passion and laugh (but he can also laugh at himself). He is demanding, but those who work with him don’t seem to mind – indeed, they seem to take some delight in doing their very best because it is so appreciated.
Could he be a better delegator? Yes, because all type A personalities are looking for perfection and suffer greatly when it is not achieved. But he is fiercely loyal, and he generously spreads the credit for success around.
He can be cantankerous at times, but so can we all. He is also generous in his sharing of information and is a good collaborator.
That is my person assessment of the front runners. We will see what happens on October 26, 2022.