Manitoba

Point Douglas council race off to competitive start

Less than two weeks after Coun. Mike Pagtakhan surprised city council with his plans to leave public office, his assistant, Vivian Santos, has registered to run for office in his Point Douglas ward. She already has competition from community activist Kate Sjoberg.

Mike Pagtakhan assistant Santos and community activist Sjoberg vie to fill void left by departing councillor

Vivian Santos is executive assistant to Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan. She previously worked in Mayor Brian Bowman's office. (Vivian Santos/Facebook)

Less than two weeks after Coun. Mike Pagtakhan surprised city council with his plans to leave public office, his assistant has registered to run for office in his Point Douglas ward.

At the June 21 city council meeting, Pagtakhan informed council four terms in office were enough for him and said he won't seek a fifth term in October.

Twelve days later — on the second day council candidates could register their campaigns — Pagtakhan executive assistant Vivian Santos signed up in a bid to be his successor. 

Pagtakhan said he did not provide Santos with notice of his own intentions, a move that could have provided her with an organizational jump on other Point Douglas candidates.

"She was surprised when I announced it, let's put it that way," Pagtakhan said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

"It was all about when I ready to go. The same day I announced this, I even shocked myself."

Coun. Mike Pagtakhan surprised city council with his plans to leave public office. Now his assistant has registered to run in his Point Douglas ward. 2:02

Santos says she was surprised by Pagtakhan's announcement, but adds she had thought about running for office before.

Prior to working for Pagtakhan, she worked for Mayor Brian Bowman's office and also served as a legal assistant.

She says transit service and graffiti are major issues in Point Douglas.

"I know there are some areas that have issues with vandalism and tagging," she said.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, who has served five terms at city council, has announced she would not run again in March.

Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan says the replacement of the Arlington Bridge is not an obstacle to the potential removal of the CPR Winnipeg Yards. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

At the time, Gerbasi said she made her intentions clear early in order to allow prospective Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry councillors time to organize campaigns.

"I want this to be a democratic, open and fair process that anybody who's interested has the opportunity to consider that," she said.

The short notice has not, however, deterred other candidates from entering the Point Douglas race.

"This is kind of an exciting time for new candidates to get in right away," said Kate Sjoberg, a community activist who plans to register on Wednesday.

Sjoberg, who has run both the Spence Neighbourhood Association and the North Point Douglas Women's Centre, said she's focused on maintaining services.

"What I'm hearing right now is that people are really concerned about rec funding and also funding for seniors programming and these are critical supports the city provides," she said.

Kate Sjoberg, a community activist, plans to register to run for council in Point Douglas on Wednesday. (Justin Fraser/CBC)