Two members of Flin Flon’s city council have announced bids to run for mayor this fall.
A pair of sitting councillors, Tim Babcock and Leslie Beck, have announced intentions to run for Flin Flon’s highest elected office in October. Babcock officially announced his candidacy for mayor online July 15, while Beck announced her intent to run July 19 during a city council meeting. Both candidates have set up Facebook pages for their election bids.
Both candidates will shoot for the spot currently occupied by Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley, currently serving his second term as mayor. Huntley has not publicly announced whether or not he plans to run for reelection.
Babcock has served on Flin Flon’s city council since 2010 and currently serves with both the Flin Flon Kin Club and on the board of the Flin Flon Bombers. Babcock received the fourth-most ballots in the 2018 local vote, narrowly finishing behind the late Colleen McKee, Ken Pawlachuk and now-outgoing councillor Karen MacKinnon with 610 votes.
“This is something that I've thought about for a long time,” Babcock told The Reminder in a recent interview.
“Colleen McKee and I used to joke about which one of us would be the next mayor - it was kind of as ‘I don't want to do it, you should do it’ thing, we’d joke. In 12 years on council, I've worked with two mayors, three CAOs, four directors of works and only eight councillors.”
Babcock said he was motivated to run by a sense of community service.
“I've been there [on council] for 12 years. I’m going to be 43 for this election and I’m still the youngest person there - there's never been anybody on council since I've been there that was younger than me. I’ve got 12 years of experience before most people are thinking about running for office. I think that says a lot about who I am and where I come from,” he said.
“I’ve pretty much dedicated my whole life to giving back to my community, whether it's through the Kinsmen, through being on the Bomber board or volunteering for things. It’s something I’ve always done and I feel it’s important. I applaud anybody who steps outside their comfort zone and stands up for something that’s important to them.”
Babcock believes Flin Flon’s three biggest issues are seniors’ housing, economic development and public safety, with economic development taking on a bigger role after the closure of much of Hudbay’s local operations.
“With economic development, it's the whole Hudbay scenario and being a one-industry town, how do you transition from that? And what can you do to complement what you already do?” he said.
“We’ve had COVID-19 and we’ve had byelections and the mine is shutting down. It seems like there haven't been a lot of wins and a lot of things to celebrate. But we have to keep moving forward. If we don't do it, who will?”
Beck has served twice on city council - first serving from 2014 until 2016, when she stepped down to run for the Manitoba Liberal Party in the 2016 provincial election, then again from 2021 to today, winning her spot in a byelection battle.
A now-retired former RCMP officer, census taker and service provider for the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy, Beck ran for council last year making it fully clear that she planned to run for the mayor’s chair this year. Beck has run for mayor before, finishing third back in 2010.
When interviewed by The Reminder, Beck mentioned a personal passion for politics and a desire to help Flin Flon through its newest post-Hudbay stage.
“A couple of the reasons that I'm running are that I am somebody who really loves politics and I really like being involved. I feel that it's the progression for me, that I think I can do a good job as mayor,” she said.
“I think that moving forward, because of the transition that we're going through, moving into a city that doesn't have a mining complex any longer operating at its back door, that change is going to have to evolve. We have to transition ourselves into it - what are our next steps? How do we add to things?”
Beck has included as goals, if elected, to retain and possibly grow the community through business engagement, investment and development, to step up bylaw enforcement and to grow the community’s profile to outside eyes. Beck, an incumbent, also believes that getting fresh faces in the halls of power may be important.
“I think that we need to move forward from our status quo. I think that it's time to get some new people and some new energy into mayor and council,” she said.
“I’d like to be a very active mayor. I'd like a mayor and council that are actually out there, developing the policies, engaging the people to see what they want, going out there and driving our name forward. When we go to these trade shows, whether it's AMM [Association of Manitoba Municipalities] or FCM [Federation of Canadian Municipalities] or whatever's out there, we have our own table there so that people can see what Flin Flon is about.”
The next Manitoba local election is set to take place October 26.