Meet your mayoral candidates: David Sanders

a political pit bull who enjoys the park

He was a political insider for most of his professional career with the provincial government, but when it comes to municipal politics, David Sanders feels pushed out. 

At the September 10 Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) sponsored debate, Sanders was one of three mayoral candidates not asked
to participate. 

He was told that any candidate was welcome to come and sit on the stage and moderators could ask them questions. But when Sanders showed up, moderators Richard Cloutier and Shannon Sampert were adamant he could not participate. 

“I then appealed to Stefano Grande (Downtown Winnipeg BIZ executive director), reminding him what he had written and published,” Sanders says, “but he insisted that I would have to sit
in the crowd.”

In an August 21 CBC article, Downtwon BIZ rep Jason Syvixay stated that they had

“a limited time frame to discuss thoughtfully issues related to our city’s downtown,” and that the debate would “focus on a limited group of candidates.” The article also noted that the BIZ asked all candidates to submit answers to the posed questions and that the BIZ would publish them. 

A long-time city hall watchdog, Sanders hadn’t yet entered the mayoral race before he raised the ire of councillors by questioning their integrity.

“Sanders was the target of a very rude heckle from Councillor Justin Swandel and a lecture from Speaker Devi Sharma at the [July 16] council meeting,” Marty Gold, host of City Circus on Shaw TV says, “for daring to say city administrators lied that there were valid legal reasons to withhold minutes from the Police headquarters boondoggle.

“[He] knows the ins and outs of bureaucracy and budgets and calls BS when he sees it,” Gold says.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Sanders speaks so warmly about his hometown, including the politics, it’s hard to tell where the city ends and the man begins.

“I love the city,” Sanders says. “The community, the co-operation and goodwill we have in our community members, our ability to work together whether it’s volunteering or between levels
of government.

“It’s a wonderful place to grow up and raise a family,” he continues. “We have rivers and so much green space, and it’s large enough to have all the arts and culture one could want.

“A natural environment is good for the soul,” he says, describing a favourite outing to one of many parks in the city. “To see the rivers, the riverbanks, and wildlife is to be at peace.”

Protecting green space, in particular the Parker Wetlands is a top priority
for Sanders. 

“I found that decisions are being made contrary to the evidence and which have been started in order to meet reasons other than public interest, in my opinion,” Sanders says, referring to the diversion of the bus rapid transit from Pembina Highway to a detour around
Fort Garry.

“In my view, the city attempted to proceed with this scheme in a manner which is in violation of the province’s new Public-Private Partnership Transparency and Accountability Act.”

While such strong words are attracting derision from other candidates, they are also attracting supporters.

“In another era,” Gold says, stopping short of endorsing Sanders, “he’d have been a very strong mayoral candidate.”

More info on David Sanders can be found on his website sandersformayor.ca along with his general platform.

Published in Volume 69, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 17, 2014)

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