Sam Katz, Mayor of Winnipeg, Canada

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Sam Katz
Mayor of Winnipeg

9 March 2008: Samuel Katz was born in Israel in 1951, though his family emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada shortly after. He attended the University of Manitoba in the city, graduating with a BA in Economics and opened a clothes store in the city not long after. Katz then built up a local showbusiness empire and became something of a celebrity in the region through his Showtime Productions Inc. entertainment promotions company, which staged concerts by leading pop musicians of the day and musicals in the city. Sam Katz was shortlisted for the 2008 World Mayor Award

In 1994 he became owner of the Winnipeg Goldeneyes baseball team, building the Canwest Park ground in 1999, in time for Winnipeg’s staging of the Pan American Games that year. Katz also founded the Winnipeg Goldeneyes Field of Dreams Foundation, which raises money for children’s charities in the province and for which he was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Order of Manitoba in 2004 by the Lt. General of Manitoba. He has also run businesses in the restaurant and club sectors and was listed as one of 125 Influential Manitobans.

Katz was able to ride this business success and voluntary work into Winnipeg City Hall as its 42nd mayor in a by-election in 2004 (caused by the resignation of Mayor Glenn Murray) and was able to secure re-election to a full term in 2006. Previous mayor Glenn Murray had achieved a national profile with the city’s staging of the 1999 Pan American Games and unsuccessfully ran on behalf of the Liberal Party in the 2004 federal election, becoming the first Winnipeg mayor to resign mid-term in the process. In the by-election which ensued, Katz beat nearest rival deputy mayor Dan Vandal 42% to 24% and provincial legislator MaryAnn Mihychuk by an even greater margin. He secured almost 62% of the vote in the October 2006 general election in the city, beating Manitoba legislator Marianne Cerilli into second place on 23%. Katz follows Murray in that he is the first Jewish mayor of the city, while Murray held the distinction of being the first openly gay mayor in Canada.

As mayor, Katz was forced to face down calls to quit when in April 2006 he referred to returning Olympic athletes in what some regarded as a derogatory manner by likening them to Playboy bunny girls. He also raised eyebrows later that year when he filed for divorce from his wife, with whom he has two young daughters, the day after his re-election.

World Mayor 2023