Two men are running for the job of mayor of Virden: Murray Wright, a former town councillor, and Brock Koop, a current town councillor.
Murray Wright was born and raised in Virden. He’s married to Sandra Wright and they have four grown children.
He’s owned businesses and been a volunteer with community groups like the Oil Caps, Legion, the Library and Prairie West Recreation. His campaign manager is Laurel Lamb of PWR.
If elected mayor, Wright says one of the first things he’ll do is quit his part time job with Castle Oilfield Construction and establish an office at Virden town hall where he’ll make himself available on a fulltime basis, “so if somebody has a complaint, I’ll be there to listen and if I can’t fix it, I’ll take it to council.”
“My main job will be walking to the office in the morning and coming home in the afternoon… I want to help get this town moving forward.”
High on his list of priorities is seeking out more provincial and federal government funding for the second phase of the waste water treatment plant to reduce the amount billed to Virden taxpayers.
Bridge on list
Murray says he also wants to get the flood-damaged bridge on PTH 257 rebuilt and reopened.
“I was told by a government employee that’s 10 years down the road. Well no, we can’t wait 10 years.”
Wright says sometimes rural councils have to be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Work the phones, go to meetings, or even take a busload of citizens to the Manitoba legislature like he, Lamb and others did 10 years ago to protest rural ER closures.
Wright also wants to change how things are done at town hall - little things like staying open over lunch hour so people can pay their bills. And bigger things like bringing an end to the town administration’s micromanagement.
“There has to be some changes. It’s going to hurt some peoples’ feelings, but it can’t continue. I hear about it even when I’m at hockey games. People say you have to make a change in that office, it has to be restructured, we can’t continue on like this.”
He wants to see individual department heads do the “jobs they were hired to do” and report directly to council.
Other plans: affordable senior housing, infrastructure upgrades, reopening the courthouse, rejuvenating downtown, and paving the Tundra arena parking lot and Fifth Ave. to the entrance.
Brock Koop is 30, lives and works in Virden. He’s been a Virden town councillor since 2014, the year all councillors and mayor were acclaimed.
He sits on several council committees such as Community and Protective Services, the Fire Board and Westman Emergency Group.
His campaign slogan is “A fresh face, a fresh start.”
Koop says he’s running for mayor because he’s the right person to create change. “I plan on living in this community for a long time and raising a family here. I feel that this town needs someone willing to fight for change.”
His priorities, he says, are recreation, infrastructure and supporting local business, however he did not give details. From sitting on council for four years, “I have learned a lot about the policies and procedures that are required to get things done.”
When asked what skills and traits he would bring to the role of head of council, Koop said, “I’m the kind of person who says exactly what I mean. I’m very “to the point”. I feel like the town needs someone who isn’t scared of hard work or getting the jobs done.”
“I’m an open book, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I would give the shirt off my back to help someone else that is in need.”
An all-candidates debate open to the public is being planned for Oct. 15 at TOGP. The Empire-Advance will have more details on that in the weeks ahead. The municipal elections are Oct. 24.