With a little more than a week until Election Day, city council races are heating up in Manitoba’s second largest city.
Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest was acclaimed, as was Linden Lanes Coun. Shawn Berry and Green Acres Coun. Jan Chaboyer, leaving 16 candidates vying for eight open spots.
There are two candidates facing off in each open ward.
In the Assiniboine ward it’s the tale of two Jeffs: incumbent Jeff Fawcett and challenger Jeff Plas.
Fawcett, a father of two, has been on council since 2010 and was appointed deputy mayor last term.
“We do want to see our riverbank redeveloped and we’ve got a real great start on it, and I’d like to see that get to the next stage, particularly the Peter Sawatzky Sculpture Garden that’s going in,” said Fawcett.
Plas, also a father of two, is a storm chaser and said community safety is top of mind.
“Crosswalks. We have so many people that are ignoring them. Blowing through school zones,” said Plas. “I’m gonna fix that. I’m gonna have lighted beacons eight foot high to protect the kids.”
Over in South Centre, it’s one of two wards with no incumbent running.
Council candidate Bruce Luebke worked in radio for years, and is now hoping to lend his voice to a new group.
“One thing I’d like to see is a possible replacement for the community centre and possibly the area around it converted into more green space, a recreational hub, something along those lines,” said Luebke.
Nick Brown, a student at Brandon University, was part of the school’s students’ union over the last four years, and has three key areas he wants to focus on.
“Increasing public transportation across the city, but also across Manitoba, with Greyhound disappearing,” said Brown. “Fighting the methamphetamine and opioid epidemic in Brandon. We’ve been hit quite hard with it, and as part of that increasing the amount of low income housing in the city.”
Brandon University Political Scientist Kelly Saunders has noticed age diversity in this election, and said it speaks to frustrations young people are facing.
“For a city that has both a community college and a university, which we’re really fortunate to have, there’s not a lot of job opportunities for young, educated people, so they’re feeling the need to leave the city in order to pursue their careers.”
Saunders also points to affordable housing and economic development as two key areas for Brandon to work on.
For a full list of candidates running in Brandon, click here.
Election Day is on Wednesday, Oct. 24.