Brandon city councilor Lonnie Patterson will not be running for a second term in Ward 6-South Centre, but should her plans come to fruition, her political career will not end.
Patterson has announced she is leaving city council to pursue a seat in the Manitoba Legislature as a candidate for MLA in the Brandon East constituency. Once her term at City Hall ends in October, she will begin work on obtaining the NDP nomination to run for the party in the 2020 provincial election.
“I strongly feel I should not run (for council) if I intend to run for another position halfway through the term, so I announced in May that I would not be seeking a spot in council,” Patterson said recently, adding that the decision came after she put a lot of thought into it and discussed the matter with others she is close to.
Elected in 2014, Patterson served the city on several bodies, including the Keystone Agricultural and Recreational Centre, the Grants Review Committee, the Poverty Committee and the Taxi Appeal Committee. Her goals while in office included the improvement of sidewalk and back lane infrastructure, traffic flow in neighborhood streets, basic service delivery, and building affordable housing through partnerships with other governmental jurisdictions, community organizations and local developers.
“I grew up in Wawanesa and moved to Brandon to attend university,” said Patterson, who completed an Honours Degree in Sociology and a Masters of Rural Development at BU. “While in my last year of undergraduate studies, I became a member of the political staff for the Gary Doer government, where I worked for the better part of 12 years. In the late spring of 2014, I was working out of both Brandon and Winnipeg mostly on Brandon and rural files. I had always kept my house in Brandon, so when the previous councilor decided not to run, I decided to return to Brandon and run.”
Her motivation to move to the provincial level comes from a desire to serve in government on a full-time basis. Many of the issues she deems most important to her – such as poverty reduction alongside low-income support services like housing and education – fall under the province’s jurisdiction.
“I learned over my time as a city councilor and in my career before that that there are a lot of people in the community who could see more financial success and get work if they had just a little more support like a stable roof over their head, access to training and help moving whatever obstacles they might have faced to that point,” Patterson said. “Solving those problems, tackling those issues primarily happens at the provincial level.”
“Regardless of your political stripe – or lack of stripe – you can sit at the table with elected officials, work through a problem and come to a solution to the benefit of the community at the end of the day.” – Lonnie Patterson, Ward 6 councilor
Over the past four years, she considers many items accomplished by the sitting council to be highlights of her single term. However, it’s the ability of this council to work together despite each individual’s varied political paradigm that stands out for her.
“One of the biggest things I will take away from my four years on council is how well a group of people with, very often, diverse perspectives and opinions can come together, have a good dialogue, make a decision to get behind it and move on,” she said.
“Regardless of your political stripe – or lack of stripe – you can sit at the table with elected officials, work through a problem and come to a solution to the benefit of the community at the end of the day.”
Patterson also feels her time in council has given her greater confidence in setting and accomplishing goals. She said changes to this year’s election processes, which were discussed at the Sept. 4 regular council meeting, is an example of this. Patterson sits on a committee that made suggestions to encourage more voter participation by the delivery of voter cards and implementing improvements at election stations.
Whoever is elected to replace her – only one candidate is registered in Ward 6 for the Oct. 24 election – will continue to face challenges that are being seen at the municipal level across the country. This includes asset management and infrastructure maintenance and improvement. She suggested the next council will have to balance responding to concerns from ratepayers with the amount of tax revenues being collected by the city.
She also feels is an exploding addictions crisis in Brandon needs particular attention. She noted that municipal governments have few tools to deal with such a problem, but can work with other governments to ensure things like addictions treatment and mental health supports are made available locally.
“The challenge is trying to tackle a problem in our community that we know needs to be tackled and figure out how to solve it as a municipality without taking it on because we can’t without the help of other jurisdictions,” she said.
“The use of methamphetamine is a serious problem. I’ve been out with the Bear Clan on patrol every few months and they’re constantly picking up used needles on the street or in dumpsters. And that’s just in downtown Brandon. I suspect there are needles in other places in the community as well.”
Nominations for mayoral and council candidacies close on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The 2018 municipal election is scheduled to occur Oct. 24. For more information about the election or to register to run as a candidate, visit brandonvotes.ca.