Brandon’s two-term Mayor Rick Chrest announced today that he will not seek re-election leading up to Manitoba’s municipal elections slated for October 26, 2022. Chrest was first elected in October of 2014 and subsequently acclaimed to his second term in 2018. Previously Rick had served 11 years as University Ward Councillor from 1995 to 2006, 8 of those as Deputy Mayor.
Chrest noted, “This has certainly been the biggest honour of my life to be selected to serve the fabulous community where I was born and raised.” He went on to say, “However, after a combined 19 years on Council it is time for my wife and I to focus on the next chapter of our life which will devote even more time to family. Our daughter now resides in Kamloops, BC and we recently welcomed our first granddaughter. The Mayor’s job is pretty confining, so we’ll look forward to getting to see them more often.” The Chrests still have two sons at Brandon University, one of whom has a physical disability, and continuing to help their education journey is a priority as well. He added, “Besides, I’ll be 63 in April so I want to leave some gas in the tank to pursue these other things in our life.”
Rick highlighted some of the accomplishments of his two Councils. “Near the top of the list for me is how incredibly collegial, collaborative and constructive our Councils have been. I believe we significantly changed the tone and culture of our municipality and I hear more compliments from citizens about that than almost anything else. They like our atmosphere of doing our job without too much drama or rancor and we generally stay productive. I’m very grateful for the support and contribution of every Councillor in this regard.”
Similarly high on Mayor Chrest’s highlight list would be Brandon’s record on fiscal management. In the face of raising costs, increased service demands and typically frozen government funding, the Councils Chrest has led have kept a sustained tight control on tax increases to benefit residents and businesses. Chrest noted, “We’re turning in a grand total of 4.64% increase in taxes for the 8 years combined which is 0.58% average and less than one-third of inflation. Even more proudly I can say we’ve done so while maintaining or enhancing all services and tackling the most robust era of capital and infrastructure investment in our history.”
Chrest also commented on the journey through the Covid 19 virus. “When you’re Mayor of a good sized city like Brandon you anticipate you’ll face emergencies such as floods and fires and storms, which we certainly have. However most of us don’t dream of navigating the likes of a global pandemic. I can say that I’m extremely proud of our community and their general response. The loss of lives, the unfavorable impacts on business and livelihoods and citizens’ mental health has been extremely tragic. However I’ve also witnessed the most profound display of the resiliency of the human spirit. It’s been a privilege to be the Mayor of a community who has generally been constructive, caring and kind through all of this.”
Mayor Chrest also provided a background paper that touched on several other highlights although he emphasized that he has 8 solid months of Council work ahead and there will be time this fall to more fully reflect.
Rick closed his comments by sending out a challenge to his community to seriously consider becoming involved in running for Mayor, City Councillor or School Board Trustee for this fall. “I would highly encourage our citizens to consider running for office this year. Certainly it’s challenging work, but it’s highly rewarding and our community needs a diverse group of good people to keep putting up their hand to serve their community.”
Mayor Chrest concluded, “I want to thank our community and my Councillors and administration from the bottom of my heart for providing me so much engagement, inspiration and collaboration to allow me to serve this wonderful city for the past 8 years as Mayor. Moreover, I’ll be forever grateful to my incredible wife Karen and our family for their support, encouragement and love throughout the journey we’ve taken together.”