Byelection candidate Chiew Chong: ‘The knowledge I have holds a lot of benefits for city council'

Chiew Chong has been living in Thompson for over 43 years, working as a heavy-duty industrial mechanic and owning a Chinese restaurant. During last fall’s municipal election, Chong tied with fellow candidate Andre Proulx for the eighth and final seat on city council. When a judicial recountcouldn’t break this tie, Chong tried to contest the results of the election in civil court, although Justice Herbert Rempel eventually dismissed this caseon Feb. 19.

What motivated you to run for city council a second time?

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I never expected a tie. Nobody expects that. It’s the first time it’s happened to me. Right now I know the number is 1,009 people support me and I think the people trust me. So I just want to say that I will not give up because if you have people that support you and you want to give up, that’s not good.

What is the most important issue you want to tackle if you are elected to council? Has this changed since the initial election cycle took place back in the fall of 2018?

To run the city, everything is based on the revenue. Without the revenue it’s very hard to keep up the programs that we have in Thompson. So the first thing we have to look at is how much revenue we’re bringing in and how much we’re going to spend. This is a basic thing for every municipality. Without the revenue we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our commitment to the taxpayers, to the people of Thompson.

Why should someone vote for you over the two other candidates who are running for this last seat on council?

I’ve been living in Thompson for 43-and-a-half years and during all this time I learned a lot of different skills. Like my job, I’m an industrial mechanic and a power engineer by trade and also I studied occupational health and safety from the University of Manitoba. I understand machinery. I’ve worked in the water treatment plant before. I’ve worked in a sewer treatment plant before. I know co-ordination. I know about how swimming pools need chlorine to sterilize the water so that people can swim safely. Those things, I’m sure the knowledge that I have holds a lot of benefits for the city council and gives them suggestions, and then we can work together as a team.

Do you foresee any difficulties in joining the current city council, now that they are several months into their term?

I don’t think so, because I attend council meetings and I understand people. I know how to communicate with people. I [ran] a small business, Wonton Place, for 24-and-a-half years. So, of course, [on council] it might get a little negative, but it doesn’t matter. You learn from people. You learn what to think and how to feel and how to act. So it’s easy for me to get along with people. There’s no problem at all. The council here, everybody has their own ideas. We have to accept their ideas. Maybe we can modify a little bit of those ideas. We can make it work. We have to move forward to make the community a place that is sustainable to stay.

Is there anything else you want to add?

This time it’s a byelection. I think it’s very hard for the people, because people have to go out to the polling station twice. But this is not because of me. It just happened because there was a tie. I did challenge the vote, but I’m not against the city. I’m not against the people. I’m just against the decision … I appealed to the judge and challenged the decision, but the judge had his own decision … and I have to follow the rule of law. So my part is not to create a byelection. It just happened. 

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