I remember the first and only time I met Mayor Sam Katz.
It was Oct. 24, 2012, I was in my first year of journalism school and I was on assignment at City Hall. After the city council meeting I went out to the lobby for scrums. The so-called real media had their go at Katz before the student journalists were given their five minutes.
I stood behind Bartley Kives of the Winnipeg Free Press to watch his interaction with the Mayor. What I saw was contempt.
Katz stonewalled on questions and offered runaround answers. After watching that exchange, I was nervous to ask my poorly formed, inconsequential questions.
Kives’s recent exit interview with Katz brought about a collection of quotes and a picture that will forever capture the dynamic of Katz’s relationship with the media: a laughing Katz pointing a single finger at Kives.
In that interview Katz says his legacy “will be whatever people say,” and I agree.
Three weeks ago I requested my own exit interview with the mayor on behalf of The Uniter. The mayor’s office responded to let me know they were looking into it and would get back to me. They hadn’t by press time.
For now, I will remember Katz as the mayor who ducked reporters and stonewalled on significant questions. Transparency and honesty are important to me.
I’ve heard some say they will remember Sam Katz as the first Jewish mayor who awkwardly made a point to celebrate Christmas.
Some will likely remember him as the mayor from Winnipeg, Ontario, who appeared on CBS This Morning.
And still he will be remembered by others as the mayor who picked up garbage when the trucks weren’t coming around, who was called out for tossing gum on the grass, and was pictured on his cell phone while driving - though these are only rumoured to be true. Let’s call them urban legends for the time-being.
The truth is Katz has contributed much to this city in his time as mayor (as we would hope).
He’s invested in infrastructure, made public recreation spaces a priority for the municipal government, and introduced the large blue recycling bins to the city - to name a few of his achievements.
Sam Katz’s ten years in the mayor’s office have impacted every one of us and his actions as mayor will continue to influence Winnipeg in years to come.
Had I had the opportunity to talk to Katz I would have asked him how Winnipeg has impacted him. How, Mr. Katz, have you changed since you took public office in 2004? I expect the answers would have been surprising.
Farewell Mr. Katz. We’ll see you around.