Winnipeg election: Three candidates combat for Level Douglas

Three candidates are vying for the Winnipeg council spot in Point Douglas with the incumbent, Vivian Santos, giving a new meaning to the term strong competition.

“I’ve actually been arm wrestling for the last seven years. I’m currently holding the provincial title for the last three years,” said Santos.

Santos was former councillor Mike Pagtakhan’s executive assistant and when he decided not to run again in 2018, she stepped up and won the seat.

Santos says she’s running for a second term because of unfinished projects. She’s been pushing for $1 transit and more recreation money.

“And yet we’re seeing today the services are continuing to be cut, so I want to stay and advocate for that.”

Santos faced controversy in her first term.

Mayor Brian Bowman removed her as acting deputy mayor saying the city needed a better fit when it came to fighting the fourth COVID-19 wave. Questions surrounded the councillor’s vaccination status but Santos believes she was demoted because she voted against the budget that year.

Santos also resigned from the police board following an appointment because of a failed background check done by police. She was never officially told why.

“To say that I’m guilty by association is actually quite rude, in my opinion, and it’s not an issue at all it’s never come up at the door,” said Santos. Someone who has sat on the police board, since 2019, is Moe ElTassi, who took a leave from that role to run in Point Douglas.

He says it’s unfortunate for ward residents Santos was not able to sit on the board.

“It’s opened my eyes to many different avenues of challenges that the city is facing,” said ElTassi.

ElTassi, a business manager, community advocate, and Order of Manitoba recipient, says crime is an issue and he wants to see safety officers on buses.

“I’d like that safety officer to have a direct line of communication with the WPS, the Winnipeg Police Service, in case of incident.”

Joe Pereria knows firsthand about the challenges he wants to tackle at Winnipeg City Hall for Point Douglas.

“This is a problem that needs an all-in-one approach,” said Pereira.

Pereira, who used to work in real estate, was banned from practicing after the Manitoba Securities Commission accused him of spending clients’ funds.

Pereria blames that on his addictions at the time.

He says that experience makes him a fit to fight homelessness and addictions.

“But looking back, it was the best thing that happened to me because it is there where I’ve truly found my purpose and calling which is to help people in the social services area,” said Pereira.

Santos won the Point Douglas Council seat in 2018 by nearly 2,400 votes. 

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