Winnipeg’s wide-open mayoral race officially kicks off this weekend with the opening of the registration period for candidates vying to become the city’s 44th mayor.
The city clerk’s office will throw open its doors on Sunday to allow prospective mayoral candidates to sign their registration papers as soon as possible in what’s expected to be a highly contested race to succeed Brian Bowman, who signalled midway through his second term as mayor that he would not seek a third.
Candidates must register in order to raise and spend money on their campaigns without running afoul of city electoral rules.
Registration does not compel candidates to appear on the ballot on election day, slated for Oct. 26. Registering early, however, allows candidates to get a head start on raising money.
In 2018, Winnipeg mayoral candidates were allowed to spend a maximum of $236,818.63. The 2022 spending cap will rise according to a formula that takes into account inflation as well as the number of eligible voters.
Four candidates have already declared their intention to run for mayor and four other well-known politicians are either mulling a campaign or have been the subject of public opinion polls intended to gauge voter interest.
Here’s what we know about the declared and potential candidates:
A self-described social entrepreneur, Shaun Loney was the first person to declare a mayoral run after Bowman announced he will not seek another term.
Loney, who founded the non-profit Building Urban Industries for Local Development and co-founded Aki Energy, is pitching himself as a mayor who would be socially conscious as well as business-savvy.
He was also the first candidate to make a concrete policy pledge. In February, he promised to reduce the workload for the Winnipeg Police Service by contracting out the responsibility for meeting the social-service needs of repeat 911 callers who place the heaviest demands of the police.
First elected to city council in a byelection in 2009, the councillor for River Heights-Fort Garry declared his intention to run for mayor in February.
Orlikow said he looks forward to campaigning as one candidate in a crowded field.
“I think it will be fun,” Orlikow said Thursday at city hall, during a break in Thursday’s council meeting. “Where I would get a little nervous is if no one was running. I hope everybody wants to run and the more the merrier
A Liberal by political affiliation and a mediator by profession, Orlikow said his campaign will focus on employment, the environment and the city’s infrastructure deficit.
During his time on council, Orlikow was a member of the unofficial opposition to former mayor Sam Katz but has been an ally of Bowman.
The councillor for St. James since 2014, Gillingham announced in February he would likely run for mayor and confirmed his candidacy on Thursday.
“The city needs a mayor who has experience to lead into the economic recovery we are needing to seize in the months ahead as we come out of the pandemic,” said the former pastor, who spent most of his time at city hall as the chair of council’s finance committee.
Like Orlikow, Gillingham has been an ally to Bowman. Both Gillingham and Bowman have identified themselves as Progressive Conservatives; Gillingham mulled a run for the party leadership last summer.
Gillingham describes himself as a moderate who’s trying to assemble broad support.
“The city of Winnipeg needs a mayor who can unite people, pull people together,” he said.
Motkaluk, a business consultant, finished second to Bowman in the 2018 Winnipeg mayoral race. She was the only candidate to mount an effective challenge to Bowman in that race, receiving more than 76,000 votes and capturing almost 36 per cent of the popular vote.
Amassing the same support in a wide-open race with more well-known competitors will present a different task for Motkaluk, who declared her candidacy on Thursday but reserved comment for the weekend.
“I believe Winnipeg is looking for some fresh, positive leadership,” she said in February.
Motkaluk, who identifies as a conservative, campaigned in 2018 against urbanist Bowman priorities such as growth fees, more support for rapid transit and reopening Portage and Main to pedestrians.
A former publisher of the Winnipeg Sun, Klein has served as councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood since 2018.
He has been mulling a mayoral run for months but has not declared his candidacy.
“I care deeply about Winnipeg and I want to find solutions,” he said on Thursday, pledging only to run again this fall in some manner. “I want to be on council in some fashion and I will work to be on council in some manner for the 2022 election.”
Unlike Orlikow and Gillingham, Klein spent most of his first term on city council butting heads with Bowman. The outgoing mayor has returned the sentiment by taking shots at a potential Klein mayoral run in recent weeks.
On Thursday, for example, Bowman accused Klein of hypocrisy, noting he is arguing for more road repairs after voting against budgets that included more money for the same.
“There are members of council who consistently opposed those investments, one of whom may ultimately be running for mayor.”
The Minister of Families in Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Government, Squires has been the subject of polling to determine popular support for a mayoral run.
Squires has been the PC MLA for Riel since 2016 and briefly considered running for the party leadership race last summer.
She would neither confirm nor deny her interest in running to become Winnipeg’s mayor.
“I have important legislation before the house and other initiatives pertaining to my ministry,” Squires said earlier this week. “That is my focus until the house lifts June 1.”
One of the best-known names in Winnipeg politics, Murray served as a city councillor for Fort Rouge for nine years and Winnipeg’s mayor for six years before he resigned to take a stab at federal office. He also spent seven years as an Ontario Liberal MPP and later made a bid to become the leader of the federal Green party.
Like Squires, Murray has been the subject of polling to determine whether Winnipeg voters want him back.
When he returned to Winnipeg in 2018, he dismissed the idea of returning to politics.
“I really, really, really like the idea of going out to the pub with my friends for a beer at the end of the day and going to a Jets game and not having to go out when you are mayor or a politician every single night of the week,” Murray said at the time.
Murray did not respond to requests for comment.
Like Motkaluk, Ouellette is a former Winnipeg mayoral candidate who lost to Brian Bowman. He came in third in the 2014 mayoral race in what turned out to be a surprisingly strong showing for the then-unknown politician.
Ouellette served one term as the Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre before getting ousted by the NDP’s Leah Gazan.
Like Murray and Squires, he has been the subject of polling. He has also returned his 2014 Winnipeg campaign logo to his Facebook page.
Ouellette did not respond to requests for comment.
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