Winnipeg Coun. Scott Gillingham 'very likely' to run for mayor this fall

St. James Coun. Scott Gillingham says he will "very likely" run in the wide-open race to succeed Brian Bowman as Winnipeg's mayor this fall — and two of his council colleagues say they're thinking about it.

Fellow councillors Markus Chambers and Kevin Klein may also enter the race

Coun. Scott Gillingham, shown here in a November 2020 file photo, says it is 'very likely' he will be on the mayoral ballot in October. (Justin Fraser/CBC )

Coun. Scott Gillingham says he will "very likely" run in the wide-open race to succeed Brian Bowman as Winnipeg's mayor this fall — and two of his council colleagues say they're thinking about it.

Gillingham, who has served as the councillor for St. James for seven years and as city council's finance chair for the past five, says several people have asked him to run and have pledged their support.

"It is very likely the voters will see me as a candidate for mayor of Winnipeg," Gillingham said Thursday in an interview. "After seven years on council I've seen a number of opportunities to make city hall work better for Winnipeggers."

Since his initial election in 2014, Gillingham has been a close ally for Bowman, who announced in 2020 he would not seek a third term as mayor this year.

Gillingham, a former pastor at Grace Community Church in Headingley, Man., served as Winnipeg Police Board chair before Bowman appointed him to council's executive policy committee and named him finance chair.

Gillingham said his knowledge of city hall positions him to hit the ground running as mayor.

"I think experience really does matter, and I think it will be an advantage as the city emerges from the pandemic," he said.

"We need to be strategic about recovery — about business recovery, development, job growth and restoring transit ridership, just to name a few things."

There is only one declared candidate in the race for mayor, which culminates in October's municipal election. Social-enterprise activist Shaun Loney declared his intention to run last April.

Mayoral candidates typically do not declare their candidacy until they register their campaigns, something they cannot do until May 1.

Registration allows candidates to raise, and spend, money for their campaigns.

Declaring prior to registration places candidates at risk of running afoul of campaign spending rules, especially if they are already in office. Sitting city councillors use public funds to pay for services such as internet access and mobile phones.

Nonetheless, two other city councillors are also considering runs for mayor.

Coun. Markus Chambers, who is serving his first term as the representative for St. Norbert-Seine River, said he remains "very much interested" and is having conversations about a mayoral run.

"We are a very fractured community right now. That's something the next mayor and council will inherit and it's going to take true leadership to bring people together," Chambers said in an interview. 

Coun. Markus Chambers said he is considering a mayoral run. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Chambers, who serves as the current Winnipeg Police Board chair, said he is humbled by the encouragement he has already received.

He also called Gillingham a "true leader" and said he was pleased to hear his council ally will likely run for mayor.

Coun. Kevin Klein, who is completing his first term as the representative for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, said he too is considering a mayoral run.

Klein said he is engaged in conversations with "a whole bunch of community leaders" in Winnipeg to ensure he could effect change if he becomes mayor.

"If I go there, I want to make sure I talk to everybody and listen," he said in an interview. "Can we work on a path forward, because I would like to know if there's a path forward."

Klein said he has no illusions about what the mayoral job entails. He said he will be more concerned with results than his image if he becomes mayor.

He called Gillingham a nice person who has nonetheless done a poor job of managing the city's finances.

Coun. Kevin Klein said he may enter the race as well. (John Einarson/CBC)

Mayoral candidates may register campaigns from May 1 until Sept. 21. Candidates for council seats can register from June 30 to Sept. 21.

The nomination period for both mayoral and council candidates runs from Sept. 15 to 21. The ballots are set on Sept. 22 for the Oct. 26 election.

The city has set aside $4.5 million to run the election and could allocate more money if the pandemic continues until the fall, said city clerk Marc Lemoine.

Regardless of the infection risk, the city is planning to run polling stations in venues other than schools this fall, Lemoine said.

Elections Canada was forced to find alternative venues during last fall's federal election.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.


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