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Meet your new city council

A new mayor and some fresh faces around the council table mean that Brandon political watchers will have a whole new team to get used to. Here they are.

 

Mayor

Shari Decter Hirst - defeated Dave Burgess

Decter Hirst made history on Wednesday as she became not only Brandon’s next mayor, but the first female to don the Mayor’s Chain of Office.

Her ambitious 100-day campaign focused on big ideas and hot-button issues within the electorate such as affordable housing, revisiting the decision to close the Sportsplex, breathing new life into the downtown and opening the lines of communication at city hall.

Moments after her victory, Decter Hirst spoke with the Sun.

"I’m just so excited to start looking at opportunities around smart jobs, talking to Renaissance Brandon about the revitalization of downtown and then it’s lunchtime. It’s going to be a great first four years."

 

Ward 1 - Assiniboine

Jeff Fawcett - defeated Mike Volek

Business owner Fawcett takes over the council seat being vacated by outgoing Coun. Doug Paterson.

He says his main method of moving the city forward centres around better collaboration with all community groups and all levels of government.

"I’ve always found success in Brandon by working with other people like the university, the college, the school division, the RHA, private business, the province ... working together with everybody there," he told the Sun earlier this month. "The better they are doing, they better we are doing and vice versa."

 

Ward 2 - Rosser

Corey Roberts - defeated Darlene Paquette and T. Keith Edmunds

Vince Barletta’s decision to step away from municipal politics opened the door for Roberts.

As a downtown business owner and acting chair of Renaissance Brandon, Roberts says he believes the Brandon’s historic business district is on the cusp of something great.

"I felt it important to get involved with the municipal election so I could help keep that momentum going," he said. "I didn’t want to see so much of the great work being done stop because the politicians change and don’t see it as important as it is."

One of Roberts’ goals as a city councillor would be to "get creative" and work with the school division to provide more school-based daycare opportunities.

He’d also like to create a community-oriented recreation council to better reflect the needs of the city’s recreation users.

 

Ward 3 - Victoria

Murray Blight - acclaimed

Retired police officer Blight earned his way onto council in 2002 by defeating challengers Darryl Check and Ron Cayer and retained his chair in the 2006 election by defeating his only opponent, George McLeod.

"Obviously, residents are happy with what we’re doing, representing them accordingly," Blight said last month of his and his three colleagues’ acclamations.

 

Ward 4 - University

Jeff Harwood - acclaimed

The 2010-14 term marks Harwood’s fifth, non-consecutive stint on council.

He served on council from 1986-92 in Rosser ward and then took a short break to continue his teaching career — only to return in 2006 and win the University seat vacated by retiring incumbent Rick Chrest and sought by three other candidates.

He told the Sun last month his acclamation in University ward this time around has been a "humbling experience."

"This is my reward for the last four years," he said.

 

Ward 5 - Meadows

Jim McCrae - acclaimed. After losing the mayoral race to Dave Burgess in 2002, McCrae won his seat on council in 2006 by defeating challengers Gladden Smith and Leo Boivin.

The 2010 municipal election year marks the first time "in 27 years" that the experienced politician has not had to campaign for his job.

"I’m kind of pleased not to be biting my nails for the next five weeks, as I always do during election period," McCrae said in late September.

 

Ward 6 - South Centre

Garth Rice - acclaimed.

Rice was first elected to council in 2002 and was re-elected by a slim margin in 2006, garnering a mere 21 votes more than candidate Mike Volek.

But since Volek has moved on to run as a councillor in Assiniboine ward, Rice, who works in the construction industry, found himself unchallenged this fall and has been acclaimed to another four-year term.

 

Ward 7 - Linden Lanes

Shawn Berry - defeated Ramona Coey, Michael Blatherwich and Doug Orr

Berry, a district manager with the Brandon Sun, wins a four-way race to fill the seat vacated by Ken Fitzpatrick.

A huge concern he said he saw emerge on the doorsteps was the "bad shape" of city streets.

"Our infrastructure has not been well-maintained there and people are getting very annoyed about it. It’s better to keep up with infrastructure than it is to play catch up and I think right now, we’re trying to play catch up. We need to get that problem solved."

Berry also believes the city’s huge affordable housing issue can only be solved when the word "affordable" truly reflects the real incomes of students, young working families or seniors.

"The big help that’s going to come from the city, in helping to develop affordable housing, is being able to give (developers) land. That’s the first step."

Berry figures it was his straightforward approach with voters that won them over.

"Quite frankly, they either agreed with me or they didn’t," Berry said. "It was either going to cost me votes or win me votes and I think I won votes over it."

 

Ward 8 - Richmond

Stephen Montague - defeated Gladden Smith and Margo Campbell

In his second attempt, Montague defeated the incumbent Campbell, who had been Richmond councillor for two decades.

Montague, the former Brandon University Students’ Union president and salesman lost to Campbell by 28 votes in the 2006 election.

In going door to door during the fall campaign, Montague said there are still a lot of ward residents very worried that their basements will flood, despite the millions in drainage infrastructure the city has invested in the ward since 2005’s terrible summer flooding.

"Just this spring, there was a rain where a lot of residents were very worried about what was going to happen. While there has been a significant amount of investment, for some it came too late," he said.

Residents are also expressing a desire for a dog park, more community centres and an outdoor skating rink in the ward, Montague said.

 

Ward 9 - Riverview

Len Isleifson - defeated Errol Black

Isleifson, a Brandon RHA employee, appears to have won with just a single vote more than Black, a three-term councillor.

He says he’s got nothing against Black’s record of public service, but he just wants to provide Brandon residents with some fresh, new ideas.

"I am young and I am definitely dedicated and very passionate about what I’m doing," he said. "I’m not in it just to get in and do four years (as a councillor). I have a plan to get in there and make a difference and keep it going."

 

Ward 10 - Green Acres

Jan Chaboyer - defeated Don Jessiman

It was repeat showdown but a different outcome.

Chaboyer, a Brandon University employee, ran against Jessiman in the 2006 municipal election, losing to the former provincial government employee by 284 votes.

She says she ran again because she believes a lot of ward-specific problems simply aren’t being addressed.

"I’d like to blow the dust off of all these concerns," she said. "For example, there’s a terrible dip on the road on Garwood Drive and it’s been outstanding for, like, 30 years. People are so frustrated with why (the city) can’t deal with it. I just think that I could have a fresh look at these things and pick away at them and see what the real problem is."

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