The race for city council is heating up in Winkler.
Council hopefuls led a forum last night tackling topics ranging from recreation to affordable housing.
In total nine people are running for six council seats including five incumbents and four challengers.
Current Mayor Martin Harder has been elected by acclamation.
For Don Cruickshank, running for city council is an answer to a calling.
"I really do believe God uses people to move into leadership to move society back to a place that reflects his glory," he explains. "I'm not shy about that... I felt this could be the Lord's leading tapping me on the shoulder."
If elected, Cruickshank is hoping to champion the Buhler Active Living Centre's assisted living floor. While the building has been open for two years, the second floor hasn't been occupied because of a lack of funding to staff the 24 assisted living units.
Karina Bueckert says her experience as a working mom and a leader in the not-for-profit sector would bring a diverse perspective to the council chamber. Watching her mother starting a business when there weren't many women in business was also an inspiration, Bueckert says.
"I learnt a lot watching her, being a woman in business there's a lot of us standing up and a lot of great diversification we bring, just a different perspective... with a well-rounded council with a lot of perspectives can really benefit the whole community."
Instead of making lofty and unrealistic campaign promises, Bueckert says her only promise is, "I'll work hard, and I'll serve the community and make the right choices no matter how difficult... and I have a really great support system in order to do that. That's the key."
Zahid Zehri is making his second run for Winkler city council. While he didn't win a seat in 2014, Zehri says he was encouraged by the voter turnout and didn't want to disappoint his growing supporters.
Mutual respect is another pillar of a healthy community, he says.
"So many people are coming here, and not everybody is the same colour or religion. There are also different cultures... so we need to talk about the people. We need to make sure we have mutual respect. It's part of the city council's job to create an environment where people feel like home. They should not be isolated or neglected."
Jerry Friesen says one of his passions is seeing Winkler continue to be known as one of the most beautiful cities in Manitoba, praising the Winkler Horticulture Society for their constant care for the community's many flower beds and planters.
Overall, he's impressed with the number of on-going projects the city has undertaken and would like to see them through including sidewalk improvements and the four-laning of PTH 32. If elected, Friesen says another priority would be opening a second splash park outside of the Winkler Aquatic Centre. "I think that would be great for the city to have."
Incumbent Andrew Froese says the city's greatest challenges come from its explosive growth, "all of our businesses, our big manufacturers are looking for people and that spurs a lot of growth and it comes with lots of opportunities but also with challenges."
Froese was instrumental in implementing new composting options in the city. Other projects he'd like to see to completion include the new arena expansion, the regional wastewater treatment facility and the four-laning of PTH 32 through the city, "we want to make sure that goes through, we have all the utilities set up there so it's ready to put the road in place."
"We don't necessarily always see those challenges," he explains. "Sometimes our schools see those challenges, sometimes our police see those challenges, but we're all intertwined together and I hope we continue to do everything we can to manage that growth."
Council incumbent Henry Siemens is excited for the Winkler of tomorrow.
With major investments in recreation and wastewater services the future looks bright, Siemens says, and one that he hopes to be a part of with another term in office.
He says council's part in promoting Winkler's explosive economic growth has been key, "without business and jobs nothing happens," Siemens says.
"In Winkler, we've been blessed to have employers who invest in our community... they open a business and start hiring people and that's caused our growth," he adds. "To have been a part of that environment that creates those jobs is really exciting."
Don Fehr is hoping for a second term as a Winkler councillor. He says the job is all about advocating for the needs of the citizen.
"My platform is continuing to listen to the citizens of Winkler," he says. "What I've been doing in the past is bringing every comment to council and trying to find a solution."
Fehr says he'd like to expand on his experience gained the last term on a number of boards including MSTW, planning and finance committees, Winkler Senior Centre and business improvement area. "These are committees that are very significant for the City of Winkler, and I would like to continue serving and working on the current projects we have."
Winkler City Council incumbent Marvin Plett says it's been an honour serving the community and hopes to secure another term in office.
"I'm proud of our record of accountability, I think it's very important we live within our means," he says. "It's important as a homeowner and it's important as a council leading the community."
He notes another highlight is council's effort to create a vibrant downtown "rather than wait for it to deteriorate and then try and revitalize it later," from the state-of-the-art library, inviting business fronts, and the popular Bethel Heritage Park.
"It's a place people like to spend time in."
Michael Grenier is hoping to have a second term with Winkler City Council, noting the first four years are a learning experience.
"You learn so much, but it's the second term you apply that," he says. "I feel like I can offer more going forward."
Grenier says seeing the growing diversity and ingenuity of the city has impressed him. Speaking at the civic centre which displays the many flags representing the background of Winkler citizens he says, "You look at all the flags, it speaks volumes to the backgrounds of people who call this community home. Seeing that makes me proud to call this city home."
Moving forward, he says a priority is seeing the city continue its mandate of fiscal responsibility, citing the Meridian Exhibition Centre has a good compromise; a sound investment for the community, "not becoming a Taj Mahal but just a functional, user-friendly building."
Voters head to the polls across the region on Election Day October 24 in Manitoba.
Voters must be a Canadian Citizen at least 18 years old on the Election Day (October 24th, 2018). Voters must be a resident of the municipality for at least six months before the Election Day or a registered owner of land in the municipality on Election Day and have been so for at least the six (6) months before Election Day.
Identification may be required before being allowed to vote. A person may be required to produce one piece of government-issued photo identification (for example - driver’s license or passport) or at least two other documents that provide proof of identity.
In Winkler, voting takes place Wednesday, October 24 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. at Winkler Elementary School.
An advance voting opportunity will be located at Council Chambers at City Hall, 185 Main Street, and will be open October 17 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
For the purpose of accommodating persons who are qualified to vote, but reside at a health care facility, a mobile voting station will be set up at the following healthcare facilities on Election Day: Boundary Trails Health Centre (Meeting Room) 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Eden Mental Health Centre (Gym) 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM and Salem Home (Heritage Room) 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM.
Voters will also have the opportunity to determine whether the retail sale of cannabis will be permitted within the municipality as part of a plebiscite. The voter will be asked the question, should licensed retail cannabis stores be allowed in the City of Winkler?
Voting opportunities will occur at the same time as the 2018 general municipal election.