Paula Havixbeck said she's disappointed she was kicked off the mayor's executive policy committee, but she's proud of the work she has done.
The Charleswood-Tuxedo councillor said she's already hearing from constituents who are pleased she spoke up for taxpayers and voted against a property tax hike in the budget.
But Mayor Sam Katz said he had no choice but to turf Havixbeck from the committee — informally known as the mayor's cabinet — as members had complained Havixbeck was pushing for a review of the Winnipeg Police Service, but then changed her mind.
"When you succeed and you convince people and then you do an about-face, you know, people — are they going to have faith in you anymore?" Katz said Thursday.
Katz also said other members of EPC wanted Havixbeck gone. He implied her unpredictability contributed to Coun. Justin Swandel's departure from the committee in November.
"There was a recommendation made by some members of the EPC," said Katz.
He added, "I had to do the difficult job of, you know, letting her know I was making the change."
'I offer a voice,' says ousted councillor
Havixbeck said it's the mayor's prerogative who he appoints to his inner cabinet, but she thinks it's a mistake to exclude her.
"I think I offer a voice," she said. "It's about debating and coming up with solid initiatives and bringing things forward. I think I was just another really good voice to have at the table."
Havixbeck said she found out she was off the powerful committee in a phone call from Katz.
The mayor accused Havixbeck of flip-flopping on two major votes: the budget and the police review.
Havixbeck admitted that she did change her mind, but with good reason.
"I think it's expected that if something loses its relevancy, to change," she said.
Matter of principle
She also said Katz told her that other members of EPC found it hard to get along with her.
"It's not the first time the mayor's heard that about somebody on EPC," she said.
"I wish that those people would have taken things up directly with me, so I know what I did that was so offensive to them."
Havixbeck said people across the city are giving her the thumbs up since she got kicked off the committee.
"I think that people [on EPC] felt I needed to accept this tax increase. I stood at the table for months, arguing that it didn't need to exist, and it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears."
Havixbeck said the budget vote was based on a matter of principle.
"I made my decision on principle and stand by it, because it's what people wanted," she said.
Havixbeck's removal makes all-male EPC
Katz replaced Havixbeck with St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes, making the EPC an all-male committee.
Currently, only three of the city's 15 councillors are women: Havixbeck, Jenny Gerbasi and Devi Sharma.
Havixbeck said she's saddened there aren't more women on council, but she added that young women looking to go into politics should not be discouraged.
"The message is to hang on and to push forward with what you believe in, because I think there's a significant role for women," she said.
Havixbeck added that more women's voices are needed at Winnipeg city hall.
"It's really crucial that younger women … who are here, who might be thinking about a political career, not give up hope," she said.