The Brandon Chamber of Commerce will develop scorecards for mayoral and councillor candidates leading up to the fall municipal election.
Todd Birkhan, BDO Partner, announced the chamber’s plans on Thursday, after he was officially sworn in as the business lobby group’s new president.
“It’s really important for the chamber to bring business issues out in this election,” Birkhan said. “We believe it’s not just something we want to do, but our responsibility as the chamber of commerce.”
Birkhan said each candidate will be given a list of business-related questions, and will be evaluated on their responses.
The goal is to help voters make informed decisions, he said. It also will act as a record so the chamber can hold the individuals accountable after they are elected.
Birkhan takes over from outgoing president Craig Senchuk of Agri-Trend Business Management. Birkhan was sworn in at the Royal Oak Inn by Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta.
“I’m excited about the next year,” Birkhan told a crowd of 230 people. “I’m a Brandon boy, a Westman boy for 41 years. Westman blood flows through my veins. I’m excited about Brandon’s future, I’m excited about Westman’s future.”
Birkhan said he wants to pick up where Senchuk left off on the path of economic development.
“I really do believe that Brandon and Westman business climate is a strong climate to work in,” he said.
One of his main focuses is for the chamber to expand into policy development, and creating specific task forces.
“I want us to take proactive policy development, I want us to get out front of issues … start diving into issues before decisions are made so we can give a proactive, helpful voice to hopefully make an impact,” Birkhan said.
Over the next year, Birkhan wants to expand on the successful Shop Local campaign, outline the chamber’s position on city development going north or south, and help Maple Leaf Foods get on stronger footing.
A shortage of hogs in the province is having an impact on the local hog processing plant. Hours and production are being scaled back.
“This company provides a lot of jobs in Brandon … and purchasing power,” he said. “Very few people in this room are not impacted by Maple Leaf Foods.”
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 6, 2014