Brandon’s municipal elections are just a couple of weeks away! Every four years the citizens of Brandon elect ten City Councilors, one for each of the ten wards, and a Mayor. This year the election date is set for October 24th. Except, this time around, the Mayor has already been chosen. Incumbent Rick Chrest has been acclaimed as Mayor for the City of Brandon in the 2018 municipal election. This is the first time in over 25 years that a Mayor has won their seat through acclamation in the City of Brandon.
Although acclamation is rare, especially in larger cities, mayoral candidates that get acclaimed were generally the incumbent Mayor in the first place. The general public usually sees two reasons as to why this happens. The first is that the majority of the citizens of the city are satisfied with what their Mayor has done for them, over the past four years. Therefore, no one wants to run against them in the municipal election. Another reason as to why acclamation happens is that citizens aren't that engaged in the democratic process, meaning that no one really cares enough to step up and run for office. Either way, come October 24th citizens of Brandon already know who will occupy the Office of the Mayor.
Rick Chrest was born and raised right here in the City of Brandon. Although Chrest is now the Mayor for the next four years, he isn’t new to the political scene. He served as the City Councilor for the University Ward from 1995 to 2006. During his tenure on City Council, Chrest served as Deputy Mayor for eight years. In 2014, Chrest came back into the political spotlight and ran for the Mayor. On October 22nd, 2014 he was elected the new Mayor for the City of Brandon. Chrest possesses a background in business and community engagement. Prior to his election as Mayor in 2014 he was the General Manager of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and the General Manager for the Keystone Centre. Currently, Chrest owns the local franchised Leon's furniture store. He also sits on a number of boards and committees across the community. These include the Brandon Police Board, the Brandon and Area Planning District and the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium Corporation Board of Governors.
So, what does the Mayor have planned for the next four years? One of Chrest’s top priorities has to do with the city’s finances. He says he plans on keeping a tight control on tax payer’s money and keep tax increases to a minimum. He also wants there to be a prime focus on economic development within the City of Brandon. Finally, Chrest realizes that crime in Brandon, especially crime relating to crystal meth, is a problem. He wants to put more resources towards policing and addictions treatment within the city in order to better combat the issue. Chrest also would like to see the youth of the community getting involved. He plans on working closely with the Brandon School Division to initiate a youth forum on drug addiction. Like the majority of community projects, Chrest realizes that combating crime in the city isn’t a job that one organization can accomplish alone. Overall Chrest will tackle the next four years as Mayor through a sustainable and co-operative approach.