Drew Caldwell won’t be leaving his post with the Manitoba government to vie for the mayor’s chair in Brandon’s upcoming municipal election.
There had been speculation in the community that the NDP MLA for Brandon East might run for mayor this fall. However, Caldwell put those rumours to rest on Tuesday morning.
"I’m flattered that people were talking to me about this and I think that this municipal election is going to be a very important election," Caldwell said. "But … I just think it’s dishonourable to abandon your constituents mid-term."
Caldwell said the NDP will have a very busy few years leading up to the next provincial election in 2016, and he wants to continue working on major projects important to Brandon.
"I respect the electorate in Brandon East and I am going to fulfil the term that I’ve had the privilege to receive from them and the support that I’ve received from them, and continue to work on the projects that people expect to be worked upon," he said. "That’s building Brandon at every level — health care, education, infrastructure and so forth."
Priorities for Caldwell include building health care capacity at Brandon Regional Health Centre, the final phase of relocating Assiniboine Community College to the North Hill and expansion of the Daly Overpass.
"These are all very important files that require a lot of attention and a lot of work to keep at the forefront of government and to provide resources to build upon," he said.
When asked if he will press Premier Greg Selinger for major projects like the Daly Overpass, Caldwell said "absolutely."
"Many initiatives — at the college, university, within our health care, within our infrastructure — are constantly pressed by my office and by myself," he said.
Last week, results of a Probe Research poll, conducted for the Brandon Sun, were released showing Rick Chrest as the front-runner in the city’s mayoral race. Seven potential mayoral candidates were placed on a hypothetical ballot.
Chrest, a former University ward councillor and current furniture retailer, had the support of 29 per cent of voters.
So far, Chrest is the only declared candidate.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst wasn’t far behind with 24 per cent support. Caldwell was in third with 15 per cent.
Decter Hirst has not announced if she plans to put her name forward for re-election, saying she wants to keep politics out of the chamber for as long as possible.
"We’ve got an election window … a six-month campaign period which is more than adequate to get the job done, if at the end of the day I put my name forward," Decter Hirst has told the Sun.
Another recent Probe Research poll shows a decline in NDP support in Brandon East, much like the rest of the province.
Of those surveyed, 47 per cent would support the Tory candidate compared to 31 per cent for Caldwell or another NDP candidate.
"At this point in time, it doesn’t entirely surprise me that we are in this position in the province," Caldwell said. "I think we’ve got a considerable amount of work to do, in terms of our own communications, but more importantly we’ve got a considerable amount of work to do in building roads …bridges and flood protection infrastructure in communities throughout the province."