• Jim Mosher

Greenberg’s long road to the mayoralty

Lynn Greenberg paid a visit to Gimli council six months before the late-October election last year. He asked a few innocuous questions. In doing so, he served notice that he was back.

File Photo May 2018

Lynn Greenberg, elected mayor of Gimli last fall, has been a fixture on Gimli councils from the early-90s to the present day.

There have been extended stretches when he missed the electoral boat, but Greenberg managed to bounce back more than not. The latest bounce-back was a big one. Greenberg was mayor from 2010-2014 before being defeated in a narrow race in 2014. Now he has returned anew.

He was always a work-man-like councillor but rarely a leader. In the early days on the former rural Gimli council, Greenberg was sandwiched between council powerhouses – the likes of Isabel Peterson, Kevin Chudd, Luke Zaborosky, Ed Petrowski, Danny Luprypa, Frank Woods; you name them, Greenberg was never the shining light.

It can be fairly said that Greenberg acquiesced to the will of others. Even during his four years as mayor from 2010 to 2014, Greenberg demurred to the perceived heavy hitters: chief among them Zaborosky and Luprypa.

Greenberg lost to newcomer Randy Woroniuk in the 2014 election. The margin of victory, however, was just 139 votes. Fast forward four years, Greenberg returns with a slim 225-vote plurality over newcomer DJ Sigmundson with incumbent Woroniuk well back in the three-way race.

Greenberg now takes the spotlight at center stage. But all is not rosy just yet. There are challenges ahead, ones Greenberg can overcome if he takes to heart the hard-won lessons of his predecessor.

Greenberg’s 2010 win was made the easier because none of the members of the previous council sought re-election. Tammy Axelsson, mayor of Gimli from 2006-2010, resigned. Then-councillor Brian MacKenzie opted to run for mayor, putting himself in a four-way bid for the mayoralty that also included Greenberg, Gus Nelson and Gil Strachan. As we know, Greenberg prevailed.

Subsequently, Axelsson and the unsuccessful candidate for the top chair McKenzie entered what became a three-way race to win the Conservative nomination in Gimli riding – a battle won by Jeff Wharton, now Gimli MLA.

The three other 2006-10 councillors – Ross Bailey, Bill Barlow and Glen Brooks – had also decided to throw in the towel.

It is important to understand why a whole council, with the exception of McKenzie who sought the mayor’s chair, would resign after that same whole council managed to rout the entire previous council in an across-the-board battle that many believed redefined the political scene in Gimli.

The four years 2006-10 had been incredibly stressful, in the main because much of the post-2003 amalgamation work had not been done by the previous council, which had been entirely replaced in the 2010 Axelsson drubbing. Council was left with the monumental task of merging bylaws policies and procedures while developing new ones developing new ones as required.

Vaulted to the mayoralty in 2014, after the Greenberg interregnum, Woroniuk was the only newcomer at the table. He joined re-elected incumbents Danny Luprypa, Thora Palson, Peter Peiluck and Richard Petrowski.

Woroniuk, then, faced, a group accustomed to working together. He would be the person who needed to get used to their ways of doing things not they to his. However, while Woroniuk was busy cutting his teeth and forming bonds with senior administration, he decided to exert his limited power to put his imprimatur on ‘his’ 2014-18 council. In so doing, Woroniuk may have estranged his colleagues, and certainly estranged electors who often complained his rule was arbitrary, verging on autocratic.

Now in this new era, Greenberg has the fortune of joining a group with two veterans and two fresh faces. Woroniuk, after all, was not the only one to miss the electoral mark last fall. He was joined by long-serving councillors Luprypa and former deputy mayor Peter Peiluck. Those ‘vacancies’ were filled by Cody Magnusson and Peter Holfeuer.

The challenge for Greenberg is different than the one faced by Woroniuk when he took office. Woroniuk’s council had been at their posts a full term before his arrival. Greenberg, on the other hand, assumes care and command of a council part experienced, part learning the ropes.

The mayor will have to strike a balance. All members of council were elected by citizens, and all will want their input respected. Greenberg must guard against the smugness that can accompany re-election. During the election campaign Magnusson and Holfeuer laid out sensible plans for burnishing Gimli’s image and developing forward-thinking plans — good ideas that need to be heard and celebrated.

It will be up to Greenberg to ensure their ideas are given the ear and, where appropriate, acted upon.

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