With Brandon’s 2014 municipal election just over a year away, questions are starting to surface about who will vie for the mayor’s chair.
Will Brandon’s first female mayor seek a second term? Will a former University ward councillor throw his hat back in the political ring? Will the youngest city councillor vie for the job?
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said she hasn’t yet decided if she will run again.
Decter Hirst said she will make the decision with Dr. Derry Decter, her husband of 30 years.
"It’s still a long way away," she said. "It’s an honour to serve Brandon, but it’s a commitment that I need to make sure that I continue to have the support of (my husband) Derry, because he’s thinking of slowing down and it doesn’t make much sense to do that if you’ve got a wife who works a gazillion hours.
"We’ve always worked as a team together … so we would continue to go forward making decisions as a team."
The mayor said she is more focused on the important short-term issues at hand, including the 2014 budget.
"We’ve got a fairly heavy council agenda, certainly through the budget process, so I’m very focused on that," she said.
Decter Hirst said the past three years have been "incredibly rewarding" and is pleased with the changes that have happened within city hall so far.
"I give credit to our team at city council and at city hall for what has been accomplished. This isn’t the same Brandon it was three years ago in a very fundamental way," she said.
Decter Hirst said she will be giving more consideration to the next term once the 2014 budget is "put to bed." Council will finalize the 2014 budget in January.
Meanwhile, a former city councillor’s name is being brought up as a potential mayoral candidate. Rick Chrest, who was the University ward councillor from the mid-1990s to 2006, said he is flattered by all of the encouragement he has received.
"I’ve learned a long time ago to never say never about stuff," he said. "I’m presently 85 per cent not running, but haven’t completely ruled things out."
Chrest spent three terms on city council and was deputy mayor for eight years. He was acclaimed in 2002 and left council in 2006.
"I was selected as deputy mayor and then continued in that position … so it certainly gave me lots of other experience at that level," he said. "That meant I chaired all the council meetings when any given mayor was away, I stood in for the mayor at lots of functions, so I guess based on that people see me as a possibility."
Chrest is the owner of Leon’s Furniture in Brandon, has twin teenage boys and a daughter in university. Between running the business and family commitments, Chrest says he has a lot on his plate.
He said running for mayor is a "very big and important commitment" that one has to put a lot of thought into.
"That process hasn’t really taken place for us yet, so you know we’re going to continue to look at it, but it’s just a little early to determine a decisive yes or no."
Another name that has been mentioned around the community as a potential candidate is Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond).
"Have I thought about it? Absolutely," he said. "It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, was be mayor of Brandon and it’s something that I do want to do one day."
Montague, 33, said the question he is pondering right now is whether 2014 is the right time.
"As of now, I haven’t made any decisions regarding 2014," he said. "A lot of people have been asking me to run and so I’m kind of balancing everything out with my personal life … my political life and my work life to try to find that balance of whether or not this is the right time."
Montague is a financial services manager at Four Seasons Sales in Virden.
He said it has been encouraging when people approach him about running for mayor, but it’s a tough decision and a "big step."
"I’ve been termed by some as the ‘opposition’ to the current mayor, and so a lot of people I think have seen me as an alternative to that," he said. "But for me it’s always nice for someone to mention your name in that capacity, and think you’d do well in that job."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 12, 2013