The Mayor for Ritchot says he believes he still has a lot more to offer the residents in his municipality. Chris Ewen has announced he is running for re-election.
Ewen took over for Mayor in a byelection on July 19, 2017. He was re-elected one year later and is now wrapping up his first full term.
Ewen says this spring's flood really forced him to consider his future in politics. He says it was during those weeks that he worked harder than ever before for the municipality. Ewen says there were times when he questioned whether he should rather focus his attention on family and business.
"But the amount of appreciation and positive emails I've received and texts and calls over the last few weeks really made me think, you know what, I think I have four more years to give," he admits. "And that's what I want to do for the people of Ritchot."
Ewen says when he first became Head of Council nearly five years ago, his goal was to improve communication in Ritchot. It is his opinion that there is now a lot more transparency involving Council and the municipality has made strides to better connect with its ratepayers.
If elected on October 26th, Ewen says it will be time to shake it up again. His mandate for the next four years includes pushing harder for funding from the province for such initiatives as community safety.
Ewen explains there are two safety initiatives he has in mind. First of all, he would like to see increased police presence throughout the municipality.
"Theft has gone down a little bit, but let's stay diligent, let's work with the RCMP, let's work with our bylaw patrol officers," he stresses.
The other safety initiative involves improvements to pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks.
Ewen says during the first five years as Mayor he pushed for economic development. And, now that the municipality has a great economic development team in place, Ewen says it is time for recreation improvements in Ritchot, including more green space and more parks.
"I want to invest more in opportunities for residents to get outside and enjoy the trees, the grass, the playground, maybe there is a splash pad in the future," he says.
Ewen holds the distinction of being the youngest Mayor ever elected in Manitoba. He took on the position at the age of 29. Ewen says younger people often believe the world is theirs when in reality, that is not true. For that reason, he thanks the mayors, reeves and councillors along the way who have shown him that sometimes you have to step outside of yourself and work hard for other people. Ewen says without these older politicians he would not be where he is today.
However, being a young entrepreneur, Ewen says he brings out-of-the-box ideas to the table. Sometimes this means pushing for change when those around him say something has never been done a certain way.
"I don't want to say municipalities should take risks but sometimes it's not the worst thing," he notes. "We've seen businesses do great things so why can't we look at it from a municipal perspective and do manageable risk-taking?"
According to Ewen, there are good days and there are bad days when working as an elected official. However, Ewen says he is very fortunate to receive way more positive than negative comments, emails and messages from constituents.