Wide-open St. James race draws 5 candidates to replace outgoing Gillingham

With its current councillor running for mayor, St. James is one of only two wards in Winnipeg guaranteed to get a new representative at city hall this election. 

St. James one of only two seats with no incumbent running

A man wearing glasses, jacket and grey shirt is standing on a road and smiling at the camera.
Kelly Ryback is a retired call centre manager and IT worker. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

With its current councillor running for mayor, St. James is one of only two wards in Winnipeg guaranteed to get a new representative at city hall this election. 

Kelly Ryback, one of five candidates vying to replace Scott Gillingham as city councillor, describes his top three priorities as pavement, police and poverty.

"We need to return back to the focus of the essentials," Ryback said in an interview.

On Linwood Street, he gestures to newly paved sections of the road as an example of what he sees as that essential work of city council.

This past April, the city selected Linwood Street as part of its enhanced cycling route.

When Ryback canvassed the residents about how they felt about the program, he said they were largely supportive of it, but they also pointed out heavy damage to the pavement, with large potholes showing exposed rebar.

WATCH | Meet the 5 candidates vying to become the next councillor in St. James:

5 candidates vie for Winnipeg council seat

3 months ago
Duration 2:35
St. James is one of only two wards in Winnipeg guaranteed to get a new representative at city hall.

After he brought the issue up at the city's infrastructure renewal committee, the city repaired the road.

"I advocated for the people of Linwood and the people of St. James and others that would be using this enhanced bike lane and it got done. So that's the type of effort that I would be taking to city council," he said.

Ryback, 58, retired after working as a call centre manager. Previously, he sold sponsorships for the Pan Am Games, worked in the IT industry and was once the Buzz mascot for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He was the first person to declare his candidacy for the seat in March.

Raised in Crestview, Ryback lives just outside the ward boundaries in Westwood.

Shawn Dobson runs again

That area was previously represented by another current candidate for the St. James seat, Shawn Dobson.

A sign says "Re-elect Shawn Dobson City Council - St. James"
Shawn Dobson is the former councillor for the St. Charles ward, which was merged with the St. James and Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood wards in 2018. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

Although his campaign signs say "Re-elect Shawn Dobson," he is not an incumbent. Dobson's former seat, St. Charles, was amalgamated into St. James and Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood in 2018.

Dobson ran for the St. James seat in that year's election, but lost to Gillingham. Dobson declined CBC's request for an interview.

Eddie Ayoub wants programming

On Queen Street, Eddie Ayoub moves door to door, introducing himself to residents.

As the artistic director for Art City, the Silver Heights resident said his experience with community development makes him the "natural successor" to Scott Gillingham.

Ayoub praised Gillingham for his capital investments in the neighbourhood's community centres. Now, Ayoub wants to see more programming. 

"We've built all these great places and invested in them. But we need free accessible programs," he said.

A man wearing glasses and a scarf is talking to someone out of frame.
Eddie Ayoub is the artistic director of Art City. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Another priority for Ayoub is putting a stop to urban sprawl and moving development to areas like around the former football stadium near Polo Park.

"We have a mature neighborhood like St. James, our roads are crumbling," he said.

"The infrastructure is in bad need of maintenance and repair. And we have the site of the old stadium … is now a vast sea of cracked concrete with weeds growing out of it."

Tim Diack's priority is crime

Tim Diack came in third place in the race for mayor in 2018. He also declared a mayoral candidacy in 2004, but dropped out and endorsed Sam Katz.

A man wearing glasses and a black jacket is standing in front of a sign that says "Elect Tim Diack city councillor for St. James."
Tim Diack is a Winnipeg police constable. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

Now running in St. James, the Winnipeg police officer says crime is his top priority. 

"It's the primary concern of people," he said. 

"They can't wait for a bus, they can't get on a bus, and they can't go downtown. Those three things people don't feel safe doing."

Diack, who lives in the Deer Lodge neighbourhood, said the city needs to reduce police response times.

"We don't have any good excuses for that anymore."

Daevid Ramey calls for homeless help

On Winston Street, Daevid Ramey loads campaign signs into his car. 

A man wearing glasses, an orange vest, blue shirt and a hat is smiling at the camera while standing on a sidewalk.
Daevid Ramey is the president of the Bourkevale Community Centre. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

The communications manager for Ikea and president of the Bourkevale Community Centre said the city needs to do more to deal with the problem of homelessness.

"We need to do something to help them, lift them up, provide them with appropriate shelters. Nobody aspires to live in a bus shack," he said.

With five candidates for the St. James seat, Ramey says he's glad the residents have options for their next councillor.

"A race like this can only benefit the residents of St. James."


Cameron MacLean is a journalist for CBC Manitoba living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience reporting in the city and across Manitoba, covering a wide range of topics, including courts, politics, housing, arts, health and breaking news. Email story tips to