Candidates for the 2014 Winnipeg Mayoral Election had their chance to present their cases to the young voters of Winnipeg at the Winnipeg Art Gallery last Thursday night.
Six of the seven mayoral hopefuls fielded questions from social media, and from people in attendance at the event, hosted by The Winnipeg Foundation and Youth Vital Signs, a report card for Winnipeg youth, aged 14-29, that measures their interest in various issues.
Candidates were asked questions on a variety of topics, including infrastructure.
“The foundation of infrastructure is good city planning,” said Robert-Falcon Ouellette. “Calgary plans a hundred years in advance. In Winnipeg we only plan 25.”
Poverty, the issue that the majority of surveyed youths said was their biggest concern, was also addressed. Paula Havixbeck said she would do her best to keep taxes where they were, adding that this would create more spending power for potential homeowners.
“Every year we have 12 to 15 per cent growth in our assessments,” said Havixbeck in an interview, adding that this growth should be enough to sustain Winnipeg without increasing taxes. “We need to do more with what we have.”
Havixbeck also addressed the state of Winnipeg transit, one of the top five issues in both investment and importance according to the survey.
“We have one of the worst public transportation systems in Canada,” she said of Winnipeg’s public transit. “Why can we not keep it clean? Why can we not get more (buses) running?”
Brian Bowman came out against partisan politics and attack ads, saying, “I’d like to tone down the partisan-ness. There’s no political party with a monopoly on good ideas.”
He later added, “Old school negativity is dead!” in reference to attack ads, and called out opponent Judy Wasylycia-Leis for an attack campaign against him.
“I’m not really surprised,” said Nolan Bicknell, 28, who helped organize the debate, referring to Bowman’s response to Wasylycia-Leis. “Like he said, old school catty politics are dead. I think people see right through it.”
“It’s a very dangerous game to play,” he added, “but I think Bowman played it very carefully.”
Bicknell also added that he thought Bowman and Ouellette in particular had strong showings.
Not in attendance at the debate was Gord Steeves, whose absence was not missed by those attending the debate. On Twitter, #wouldtherealgordsteevespleasestandup was trending by the end of the night, and numerous users tweeted at him over the course of the debate, wondering where he was.
The civic election will be held on October 22.
Click here to see the series of CNC articles by Red River College Creative Communications students who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.