New Winkler mayor says ‘it’s time to rebuild’ after trouncing opponent who fought COVID restrictions

A fixture in Winkler’s city council crushed his controversial opponent to claim the seat of mayor in the southern Manitoba city.

Henry Siemens amassed approximately 3,358 votes, or 87.02 per cent in Wednesday’s municipal election, according to the unconfirmed numbers posted on the Association of Manitoba Municipalities election dashboard, leaving the 16-year veteran of council “extremely relieved” after a stressful campaign.

“We wanted to have the community decisively say that it’s time to rebuild, it’s time to reconcile, it’s time to move forward. I believe the numbers show that the vast majority of the community believes that It’s time that we do that.”

Siemens, who has been deputy mayor of the city for the past 12 years, ran against Karl Krebs, who tried unsuccessfully to turn Winkler into a sanctuary city immune from pandemic restrictions.

Krebs was also involved in the trucker convoy in Ottawa.

The city of Winkler, Man., is seen from above. The city of just over 13,700 voted overwhelmingly to elect Henry Siemens as its next mayor, following the retirement of Martin Harder. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Now that the election is over, Siemens says he wants to focus on Winkler’s future, including its waste water treatment plant.

But to those who voted for his opponent and feel divided from other community members, Siemens has a message:

“It’s really, really important now that we reach out to those people who are feeling disenfranchised and find ways to welcome them back in and find ways to rebuild that community.”

Dauphin elects new mayor

Dauphin has unofficially elected its first new mayor in 12 years, after the last two mayoral races in the western Manitoba city went uncontested.

David Bosiak amassed 2,000 votes, and his competitor Kerri Riehl received 694, according to Dauphin’s senior election official Kirk Dawson.

“We’re elated. We had a small team here. We worked really, really hard and we’re really excited that there was such a great turn out today. Democracy works,” Bosiak said after the votes were tallied on Wednesday night.

David Bosiak has been elected new mayor of Dauphin, Man. (David Bosiak/Facebook)

Allen Dowhan was acclaimed as Dauphin’s mayor in 2018, but died last fall. Dowhan himself became mayor after the unexpected 2017 death of Eric Irwin, who was first elected as mayor in 2010. Irwin was acclaimed in the 2014 election.

Those deaths, plus the pandemic, led to a sense of “unsettledness,” Bosiak says. He’s looking forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.

An aerial view shows a small city surrounded by farmland.
An aerial view of the city of Dauphin, Man., is shown in an undated photo. The city’s last two elected mayors have died unexpectedly. Bosiak says he’s ready to provide a steady hand. (Dauphin Economic Development/Facebook)

Bosiak served as the city’s recreation director in the 1990s, while also running his own gym in town. Bosiak was later the regional manager of recreation and tourism for the Parkland region.

Dauphin was one of a handful of municipalities in Manitoba with races this year.

Almost half of Manitoba’s municipalities having elections this year saw their heads of council elected by default because no one ran against them.

But others saw wide-open races, with no incumbent running for re-election, including Brandon, the results of which hadn’t been finalized after midnight Wednesday.

As of 12:45 a.m., hand-counted ballots showed former Ward 1 Coun. Jeff Fawcett in the lead with 3,942 votes to political newcomer Elliott Oleson’s 1,475. Advance polls and Brandon University wards were still awaiting publication.

La Broquerie votes in new reeve

In the southeastern rural municipality of La Broquerie, the incumbent reeve lost to his deputy mayor, according to unofficial results from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.

Ivan Normandeau amassed 890, or more than 58 per cent of the votes, edging out the incumbent Lewis Weiss.

“It’s been a long campaign, that’s for sure. I’m happy that we only do this every four years because I don’t think I can do this every year. But I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to the new challenge,” he said on Wednesday night.

Normandeau’s challenger had a controversial last term as reeve, in which he was sanctioned by council and suspended for 45 days without pay in 2021.

Ivan Normandeau amassed more than 58 per cent of the vote in La Broquerie to unofficially unseat the incumbent reeve. (Ivan Normandeau/Facebook)

His council members brought forward a complaint against Weiss after he spoke at a Nov. 14, 2020 Hugs Over Masks rally in Steinbach during the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

In contrast, Normandeau, who is the president of the Association of Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities, made a video message in support of the COVID-19 vaccines a year ago.

Normandeau went door-to-door to speak to constituents during his campaign and said Weiss’s suspension wasn’t brought up often.

“It might have played a small part but it did not play a major part, I don’t think,” he said.

One-term Stonewall mayor ousted

In Stonewall, mayoral candidate Sandra Smith unofficially took down incumbent and one-term mayor Clive Hinds.

There was a sense of deja-vu in that bedroom community because the two had faced off in 2018. In that race, Hinds beat Smith.

On Wednesday, Smith walked away with more than 57 per cent of the vote, while Hinds amassed over 42 per cent, according to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities’ municipal elections website.

The Pas council member elected as mayor

In the northwestern town of The Pas, a councillor was unofficially elected as mayor Wednesday.

Andre Murphy is running for mayor in The Pas, Man. (Andre Murphy/Facebook)

Andre Murphy, who is involved with the Kelsey School Division and the local chamber of commerce, was elected with 63 per cent of the vote.

His challenger, Jennifer Cook, walked away with 37 per cent. Cook is the general manager of the Opasquia Times, the town’s newspaper, runs a local martial arts centre and is involved in the Northern Manitoba Trappers’ Festival.

Incumbents re-elected

Even further north, incumbent Colleen Smook was re-elected as mayor of the northern city of Thompson.

“Overwhelmed,” said Smook. “I’m so thankful.”

Smook won with 964 votes — 46.73 per cent of the total ballots cast – to beat out current councillor Les Ellsworth, who earned 711 votes, and four-time candidate Ron Matechuk, who had 388.

Thompson’s incumbent mayor Colleen Smook reacts as the results come in for the city’s municipal election on Wednesday. She was unofficially re-elected, beating out her two competitors. (Ethan Butterfield/CBC)

Out of 7,578 registered voters, just 2,070 cast ballots — a turnout of 27 per cent.

Smook was first elected in October 2018, when she became Thompson’s first female mayor.

In this election campaign, Smook talked on improvements in public safety, northern health care, and community developments such as the opening of Thompson’s new Healing Centre.

Selkirk’s incumbent Larry Johannson was unofficially re-elected on Wednesday, beating out his challenger, Morgan Steele Seman.

Jonasson was first elected in 2010, after serving one term as councillor.

Longtime Churchill mayor Mike Spence was also unofficially re-elected.

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