The first candidate has declared in Brandon’s Richmond ward, and it’s not who many might think.
Ray Berthelette, 59, filed his papers at city hall earlier this week to run for councillor in the October municipal election, beating incumbent Stephen Montague to the punch.
Montague will announce his intentions tomorrow.
Berthelette, who is a union representative with the United Food and Commercial Workers, believes his experience in bargaining sessions can help bring people together around the council table.
"I’ve always been politically active, never at the civic level, but I thought it was time to run," Berthelette said. "There’s a lot of interest and a lot of people that are talking about the issues in Brandon and I believe my background gives me the skill set to be a team player for the city."
During his political career, Berthelette has served as president of the Brandon West NDP constituency, and helped organize Jim Murray’s latest bid for the provincial seat in 2011.
He said that affiliation with the party won’t impact his decision-making locally.
"I don’t see city politics as NDP, Conservative, Liberal. I believe councillors have to be for the city and its constituents," Berthelette said.
Married with six adult children, Berthelette doesn’t live in the ward, but doesn’t believe that will hinder his chances in Richmond.
"I’ve always been someone who helps out the small person," he said.
While there has been a lot of interest generated by recent tax increases and the mosquito fogging debate, Berthelette said his main priority will be creating "good government."
Berthelette has a bachelor of arts degree with a major in native studies from Brandon University. He’s a citizen representative on the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples' Council and also sits on the Assiniboine Community College’s board of directors.
"This has been a well-thought-out process and I’m going to give it my best."
» Twitter: @CharlesTweed