Will it be the incumbent councilor, Mike Pagtakhan, seeking for re-election, or a former school trustee, Anthony Ramos,as the winning councilor on October 22, and who will be involved in the various changes in the City Hall, as a new City Mayor will be elected, and some new councilors will be added the rooster of the re-electionists? With Mayor Sam Katz retiring, the new mayor will lead the City Council, making the newly minted mayor to face many challenges from the burdened property tax, to infrastructure deficit, to urban sprawl, safety, and the rapid transit, and with the cooperative and collaborative inputs of the councilors who are experienced, and with creative and proactive impulses on the issues, then the City Council will function normally, thus benefiting the people in the City of Winnipeg.
Councilor Mike Pagtakhan has 12-years experience as a city councilor while Anthony Ramos has eight years as a public school trustee.
To bring a deeper analysis on the issues confronted by the City Council, and to highlight the mandates of Councilor Mike Pagtakhan and School Trustee Anthony Ramos, the Filipino Journal has initiated a question and answer formatto outline their views, their plans and their vision for a new City Council, and for the City of Winnipeg.
FJ: What is the foremost motivating reason why you are running for an elective position as a City Councilor?
Mike Pagtakhan: It has been such a tremendous honor to work along side with so many wonderful and amazing citizens in Point Douglas to affect such positive change in our community and in Winnipeg. My vision of creating a more prosperous Point Douglas is becoming a reality with the completion of the North Centennial Recreation Centre, Sinclair Park Community Centre, the new Nomads Football Clubhouse and Field, the twinning of Inkster Blvd, the construction of several new condos in Downtown Winnipeg and the construction of new homes in the Inner City. Point Douglas is changing for the better, but there is still so much more to do. Some of the projects I would like to complete in this upcoming term of office are; the replacement of the Arlington Bridge, completing the twinning of Keewatin to the new Chief Peguis Trail extension, the completion of a world-class FIFA soccer pitch at Shaughnessy Park by Keewatin; and the construction of the new indoor multi-court basketball sportplex. I love working with people! And by working together in a bayanihan fashion, we will be able to realize our collective vision for an amazing, safe and vibrant Point Douglas and the City of Winnipeg for our family, our friends and our neighbours!
Anthony Ramos: I am running in order to facilitate resources and services that directly impact the citizens in the inner city areas of Point Douglas in need of life changing assistance and to develop partnerships among various levels of government and stakeholders who will sustain these resources and services that are necessary for life changing renewal. I would also like to facilitate and develop the need to maintain the talents of our young people in the ward of Point Douglas who are involved in the field of internet security and cyber defence. I would like to address the dire straits of our infrastructure in an equitable and efficient manner through an unbiased report and audit of all roads. I would like to maintain and reinforce the frontline services of Waste Water, Fire/EMS/Police, and Public transportation. In all, I would like to renew confidence, trust and truth to the dynamics of city hall and the citizens of Winnipeg.
FJ: In terms of the problems of the City of Winnipeg, namely, 1) infrastructure deficit, 2)peace and order, 3) property tax, 4) urban sprawl, 5) retention initiative for the young people to stay in Winnipeg; 6) downtown revival, 7) aboriginal issue, 8) diversity in human resources, which of these issues are the most urgent?
Mike Pagtakhan: I’d like to answer your question by saying that the issues you have identified are clearly important, especially with Infrastructure and Safety being of paramount importance in the minds of most citizens. The truth of the matter is, there are a multitude of issues that resonate differently with every citizen. From a City-wide perspective I have heard about the importance of building a mass transit network across our entire City, which will help alleviate the heavy financial burden required to fix a city geared mostly for cars. From a city planning perspective a rapid transit system helps create a more efficient and sustainable city. Winnipeg needs a rapid transit system and each quadrant of the City will benefit from such a network, with respect to new housing development, business & retail development along the rapid transit network. In Point Douglas, there is a huge need for more recreation and sports programs for youth and seniors. There is also a need for more affordable housing with the consistent influx of new Canadians from across the globe. Another issue of great importance is downtown development. Encouraging more mixed use residential development in downtown is desirable and in demand. Winnipeg has only one downtown and initiatives that keep downtown Winnipeg as a safe, vibrant, exciting and a destination for visitors and citizens alike are critical in creating prosperity for the City.
Anthony Ramos: I agree with this list.
FJ: The City of Winnipeg is a multi-ethnic society, and every ethnic group deserves your support, and being a Filipino, would you favour the needs of the Filipino community?
Mike Pagtakhan: I agree that Winnipeg is truly defined by the incredible global diversity of its citizens. Winnipeg is a City of immigrants, and our City’s diversity is our strength. I must say that I am very proud of Winnipeg’s Filipino community. Our community is talented in many fronts from academics, music, sports, art, dance, in research, management, business, medicine, education. With respect to funding community based initiatives, I am proud to have supported numerous Filipino based organizations at fiestas, dinners, heritage initiatives, walks, anniversaries, and all manner of seasonal calendar events. At a City level, I have helped ensure that there are a wide and diverse selection of Tagalog books in Winnipeg’s library system. I have also been a strong supporter of the PCCM and several Filipino community basketball leagues. While there are a limited amount of grants, I try not to restrict myself from helping as many Filipino groups and organizations as possible.
Anthony Ramos: Yes, I would in so far as there is a true warranted need for such support. Any group should be supported as long as there is a justified, well researched and truly necessary system of support thatis necessary for them to develop and grow.
FJ: Do you support the ethnic cultural and community grants?
Mike Pagtakhan: Similarly, I try and work with all cultural groups and community organizations as their needs arise, and to support their project by assisting them in their application to access the appropriate grant for their type of project. I am pleased to have supported many cultural groups including the Sudanese Cultural Centre, the Casa Dos Acores, the Punjab Cultural Centre, St. Mary’s the Protectress Villa, and many others.
Anthony Ramos: Yes.
FJ: How you would deal the various ethnic needs in terms of housing and safety?
Mike Pagtakhan: If you are referring to a particular ethnic group embarking on a housing development project, the City has a Housing Development division that will review a particular proposal. If the financials, pro forma, and equity financing are in place and makes sense and the business plan is feasible the proposal may be eligible to receive grants from the City and the Provincial government on a per door basis. Groups and organizations can also respond to Calls for Proposals as they arise in regard to a particular need for housing, such as seniors assisted living.
Anthony Ramos: Determine the present situation through consultation with the community in question, along with proper authorities and develop a strategy based on needs and available resources and support. Implement. From there continue to examine any outstanding needs not met and determine their most adequate plans to address concerns and act.
FJ: Last but not least, would you join EPC which is suffering from an image problem?
Mike Pagtakhan: Winnipeg City Council is currently structured with a Mayor and 15 members of Council. The Mayor is the Chair of the EPC (Executive Policy Committee), and the Mayor appoints a Deputy Mayor and 5 members of Council to this committee. Each of the 5 members in turn Chairs a Standing Policy Committee. This is the current structure of Council, however I have supported a motion that now requires the Mayor the ability to appoint 3 members of their EPC, with the other 3 members being chosen by City Council. I think this is a more evenly balanced EPC that better reflects the desires of Council, rather than just the Mayor. If selected by Council or the Mayor, I would be honoured to serve and to work hard for the interests of Point Douglas and all citizens of Winnipeg.
Anthony Ramos: I believe that the EPC should be abolished.