If no other candidates step up, eight out of 10 Brandon city councillors will be acclaimed in the upcoming election.
Voters don’t head to the ballot box for another three months, but as it stands now, eight electoral wards only have one candidate officially in the running. Richmond ward has no candidates at all, while South Centre is the only ward with two candidates vying for the seat
Outgoing Coun. Murray Blight (Victoria) said this is not acceptable.
"I don’t care who they are and how confident they are ... first time running shouldn’t be acclaimed," Blight said. "I think it’s only fair to the residents, the constituents, that they could have an opportunity to … offer a choice to select."
Blight is retiring from council this fall, after serving three terms. A retired police officer of 32 years, he 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. In 2010, he was acclaimed.
"There happened to be four of us that were acclaimed ... but I already served two terms so obviously I didn’t do too bad of a job or somebody would’ve run," he said. "But ... for ones that have never been in the political field ... to get acclaimed, I just don’t find that should happen."
Blight, Jeff Harwood (University), Jim McCrae (Meadows) and Garth Rice (South Centre) were acclaimed in 2010.
Blight said over his 12 years on council, there are residents who often come out to public meetings to voice their opinions and concerns, send letters to the editor at the Brandon Sun, or "hide behind Sound Off" regarding the way the city is managed.
"Of course, I say, ‘Next election, make sure your name is on the ballot so you can be heard and represent,’" Blight said. "So now… where are these people?"
Blight says if the city is going to progress forward, new people need to get engaged in this election.
"I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that are a lot smarter than me, and have more education and what have you, that could certainly be a contribution to the running of the city," he said.
As of Thursday, five current city councillors have registered for re-election — Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres), John LoRegio (Meadows-Waverly), Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes), Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) and Jeff Harwood (University).
Coun. Corey Roberts told the Sun he plans to seek re-election.
Victoria ward has one candidate, local businessman Barry Cullen. South Centre ward, currently vacant due to Garth Rice’s resignation, has two candidates — Kim Longstreet and Lonnie Patterson.
Miles Crossman is the Rosser ward candidate, while Vanessa Hamilton is seeking the Riverview seat, to be vacated by Len Isleifson, who plans to vie provincially for Brandon East MLA. Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) said he is still undecided.
If no one runs in a particular ward, according to the Municipal Act, members who are elected may appoint a person to fill the vacancy. The person appointed would have to be eligible for nomination at the time of the election.
According to acting city clerk Heather Ewasiuk, council appointed a position back in 1976. Joe Thomassen resigned as councillor and no nominations were filed for the byelection. Marguerite Hersack was appointed to the position for the remainder of the term.
"Hopefully with me barking, speaking ... people will seriously think about running and get out there," Blight said. "September is going to come around before too long, and then it’s going to be too late to put their name forward."
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