My view on the Riverview Ward by-election

Staff
0
875

Hey, anybody up for another election? No, there won’t be endless TV ads during the suppertime news. And there are no debates scheduled that I have heard of.

Plus, the only blight of election signs are in the city’s East End ward of Riverview. It’s about the by-election on May 18 to fill the seat vacated by Vanessa Hamilton, who resigned to run for the provincial Liberals in Brandon East. where she placed a comparatively decent third.

I’ve reviewed materials about by the three candidates online and read/listened to their comments in the media.

What I find interesting is the lack of specific ward issues being discussed. Perhaps it’s because none of the candidates live in the ward. Or perhaps it’s because Mayor Rick Chrest and his council have been doing such a good job.

Sure, there are always residents who have complaints about snow clearing, or damage caused by snow plows to sidewalks or boulevard greenery. And parts of the ward do have some drainage issues as there are a few hilly areas.

But with tax increases under control — save for the steep increases in water bills flowing out over the next few years — and as spring has sprung providing a general sense of optimism with citizens, all three candidates have opted to talk about general policy themes. And also explain how connected they are to Riverview.

Now I have an issue writing about this by-election. Not because I don’t care about it, rather I have a very real conflict of interest as candidate Glen Parker was a co-worker of mine when I was at the Brandon Sun. We worked very well together as senior managers and I count him as a friend to this day.

I don’t know Tyson Tame all that well, but I did closely observe his failed run for Riverview in 2014. At that time he was recruited by some unknown folks (yeah, I’m pretty sure I know who they are) who didn’t want to see left-leaning Hamilton win the seat. Tame fared poorly in a major debate at the East End Community Centre. But he only lost the election by 49 votes.

Obviously if one of the two men win, it will reduce the number of female councillors to two. The political balance around the council table will also skew to the right just a bit if either of the men win. If Delvina Kejic wins, the gender and political balance will remain the same. And there will be two Aboriginal councillors.   

So to be fair, I’ll offer condensed bullet points on each candidate, sourced from their Facebook pages or profiles posted on the city’s website. Without my comments. Or any editing of their writing.

Delvina Kejic: Brandon has been home for 33 years where I raised my 6 children and 5 of my 6 grandchildren reside. My home land is Fisher River Cree Nation. I am retired from Brandon School Division after working for 24 years in varied capacities with provincial funded projects. Policy ideas I am committed to: Increase voting numbers of grass root people. They truly are the stakeholders. By empowering voters we grow towards a better government; Increase accessibility, develop new endeavours and incentives in areas of housing, playgrounds and public places for all ages of people with varied levels of disability directly in Riverview Ward. Brandon is changing. We have a beautiful city and we all talk about inclusion, equity, diversity, culture and change. By electing me I can bring more of this to the table in many stories as to the good of it but more so about the how to's and whys in a bigger, experiential way, and if elected the table becomes more “visibly” inclusive, equitable.

Glen Parker: Having lived in Brandon since 1969, going to school and growing up in the city’s East End, Glen is extremely familiar with the Riverview ward and all it has to offer. Glen and his wife Shannon have two sons whose early childhoods were also spent in the ward. Both attended Riverview School and later in life both returned to live in the area. Glen is currently employed by The Brandon Sun where he is the sales and marketing director. Previous work experience includes well over a decade in the financial services industry. His employment experience provides him with a very high comfort level in dealing with large dollar values. Glen manages multi-million-dollar budgets on a daily basis. This experience would be a valuable asset in the role of city councillor. Glen has often publicly stated that he believes we should all be good citizens by volunteering when we can. His resume of volunteer work and community service is extensive. Glen doesn’t think it’s the role of a new councillor to speak on policy issues without being privy to all the information relative to specific issues. Rather he would just assure residents that he would be available, open to suggestions and would provide good leadership for Riverview.

Tyson Tame: My name is Tyson Tame, and I am running to become your next city councillor in the Riverview Ward. In my professional career, I am a real estate advisor/partner at Royal Lepage. I grew up in Brandon in the South Center and Green Acres Wards. I am married to Tina, who is the member services director at the YMCA, together we have 3 children, 2 of which are adults. My hobbies are writing, long poetry memorization, public speaking, and I sing and act in community musical theatre regularly. I also serve on the Brandon General Museum and Archives board as the fundraising chair. As a city councillor you are one of 11 votes in council chambers, very little can be accomplished without the cooperation of others. I feel confident in my relationships with the Mayor and the current council members and I feel my interpersonal skills will be an asset in forwarding the voice of the constituents of the Riverview Ward. My goal is to be the most hands on councillor that Ward #9 has ever had.

The byelection takes place on May 18. An advance poll will be held on May 12 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the main foyer of Brandon City Hall. That’s why I’m running this ward profile today, as many people now choose to vote in advance.

On by-election day itself, stations will be open for voting between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at: Riverview School, 1105 Louise Ave. East; King George School; and 535 Park St; Lions Manor, 35 Victoria Ave. East.

OK. For readers who have made it this far, I’ll give you a bit of a reward. I’m known to be a guy who makes comments and stands by them. People don’t just read me just for information. They want to see what my opinion is.

So with my aforementioned conflict of interest in mind, I’m going to offer my thoughts on who will be the next councillor for Riverview Ward.

Glen Parker has deep, deep roots in the ward. He is also extremely well known for his 23 years as a board member for Hockey Brandon, 17 years as president of Hockey Brandon, 15 years as a board member for Hockey Manitoba.

He has also coached 24 youth hockey teams; coached Brandon Minor Baseball and Youth Soccer. And here’s the kicker — he volunteered for the East End Community Centre for more than 25 years and is currently a board member. The EECC is the heart and soul of the East End.

Interestingly, longtime EECC volunteer and board member Peter Nissen has been sharing Tyson Tame’s posts of Facebook. And none from the other candidates.

Tame does have the advantage of knowing the ins and outs of the ward from his run in 2014. While he has a fairly high public profile as a realtor, he doesn’t have the years of working with a couple of generations of families in youth sports. That gives Parker an advantage as he will personally know a lot of people who answer the door as he canvasses the ward.

Delvina Kejic, originally from Fisher River Cree Nation, is an unknown factor. She is definitely playing the race card: “I believe that based on my heritage…” and lists her community involvement, in part, as being on: the provincial Aboriginal Education Directorate Council; the city’s Homelessness Committee; and the Community Weekly Powwow Club. She also coordinated the provincially funded Building Student Success with Aboriginal Parents at École New Era School.

The self-described “retired” project co-ordinator, who worked at New Era for more than two decades, told the Brandon Sun she hopes to bring a different perspective to the council table.

Kejic will have a hard time getting her name known. She also isn’t running as large a campaign as the other two candidates (one sign of that is the shortage of signage)

Curiously, Kejic set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding page last November to help stop the bank from seizing her house in Rosser Ward. She claimed to need $5,000 and had raised about half of that in a couple of months.

“I have had a sudden loss of income, very unexpected with a job I have given heart and soul to for 23 years in the lives of people and community,” she wrote on the page. “I am pursuing reasons as to why the sudden change.

“I have (fallen) behind in my mortgage, taxes, day to day expenses. I limit my food and am selling what I can to help, but not fast enough. I plea for your HELP to keep the bank from taking it. Change is never easy and sometimes is completely unexpected and hits with a BIG domino effect.”

I certainly can sympathize with one suddenly losing a well-paying job after working somewhere for a long time. But the fact she is “pursuing reasons as to why the sudden change,” is curious.

A “sudden loss” of a job isn’t necessarily the same as taking a voluntarily retirement from a position to enjoy one’s golden years. Sure, you can say you’ve retired from a profession, in social settings, to gloss over the complicated details as to why you’re unemployed.

But when one runs for public office, people like me look for inconsistencies in candidates’ biographies. Their financial status and personal lives are also open for examination as they will be in charge of the public purse. But I digress.

The Riverview Ward has been traditionally very left wing. This will help Kejic. There are a number of Aboriginal residents, but not as many as in the neighbouring Rosser Ward.

Pundits have noted the federal Liberals mobilized First Nations voters, with some of that momentum pushing into the provincial election. Could that help Kejic in a city by-election? Meh.

Brandon East went decidedly right in the provincial election, throwing out long-serving NDP MLA Drew Caldwell in favour of Progressive Conservative Len Isleifson.

But will that have any impact in the Riverview by-election? Likely not. The only neighbourhoods who remained NDP in Brandon East in the provincial election were in the Riverview Ward area.

The voter turnout for civic by-elections is historically very low. In 2013, John LoRegio won with the support of 51.6 per cent of Meadows ward voters. But that was of a total of 616 people — a turnout of just 19.3 per cent.

So I think it will come down to who knows how many people in the ward. And who will be able to get those folks out to vote.

Tame will benefit from his exposure in the 2014 tilt. He will have a lot of name recognition.

Parker will benefit from his years of volunteer work and having many friends and acquaintances in the ward.

The residents of Riverview have some interesting choices to make. And I hope many of them get over their voting fatigue and get out to vote in this by-election.

Who should win the by-election? Council could use some more diversity and Kejic could bring some new perspectives to City Hall. Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser) is Métis — and he also played the race card in the general election in 2014 — but I think a full-blooded First Nations woman could be of benefit to the decision-making process at the largely middle-aged white-guy table.

Who will win the by-election? I think it will be a close race between Tame and Parker, who are both running well-funded campaigns with help from volunteers. I will give the edge to Parker.

That unless the Riverview left organizes itself, as it has in the past, and also helps to mobilize the Aboriginal vote. Then we could see an upset victory for Kejic.

It’s no doubt that Kejic could use the income, but could the political newcomer be an effective councillor?