There are 14 Pictou County residents running for mayor in the 2016 municipal election: three new faces each in Pictou and Trenton, four new people are offering in New Glasgow, Stellarton’s incumbent mayor is facing off against one newcomer and in Westville, the incumbent mayor has two challengers.
In the lead up to the election, The Advocate has reached out to the mayoral candidates in each town asking several questions that have been on the minds of voters.
Here are their responses…
DANNY MACGILLIVRAY, Stellarton
What compelled you to run as mayor of your community?
My professional career in the non-profit charitable sector of Pictou County has always consisted of me making decisions in the best interests of a community of people. My leadership skills are proven. I have an extensive background in financial management, with a business degree, major in accounting, from St. Francis Xavier University. My professional career has been built on a lot more than just financial management, but financial management has always constituted part of my job description. I believe my education and professional background has prepared me well for the job of mayor.
What do you feel are the three main priorities / issues your town is facing?
• Long-term plan for clean water from a secure source. East River water levels are dropping and the water requires extensive chlorination.
• Fully utilize the Albion Business Park by finding new clients to set up shop.
• Finding ways to co-operate with other municipal units when it benefits Stellarton.
What are the future prospects of your town?
Stellarton has positive future prospects, we are in good financial shape with a solid residential and commercial tax base. There are opportunities to expand our commercial tax base in the Albion Business Park. Stellarton is a desired destination for people looking to raise a family. Our recreational facilities are literally second to none in small town Nova Scotia. Hopefully the strip mine will be done soon. These are all positives for our town.
The most significant threat to Stellarton is the overall decline of rural Nova Scotia’s population and economies. We need economic development in rural Nova Scotia. That is what will keep our young people home and our economy prosperous. We need real jobs here at home. No mayor or council can achieve this on their own, the entire community of Stellarton must be willing to work towards this common goal, in conjunction with the wider Pictou County community, the business community and all levels of government.
What do you feel the future of “amalgamation / shared services” is for the community?
I was a public “No” during the MOU campaign, with a letter to the editor and communication on social media. Professionally, as executive director with CHAD Transit, I received a lot of negative feedback for publicly airing my position, but I felt strongly the MOU was a bad deal for Stellarton. I stood up for what was best for Stellarton then, and will continue to do so in the future.
That being said, I do believe we are stronger when we co-operate. My idea is to have monthly mayor/ warden meetings, so we can all get to know each other and talk about areas we can save money. No talk of amalgamation, just discussion on areas we can work together to realize efficiencies. Building on existing agreements like the Stellarton/Westville policing arrangement for example. Just use common sense, if it’s potentially a good idea for the people of Stellarton, then let’s look at it.
How do you think you can better/improve the town? What would you do differently?
• Make town hall more open and transparent by live streaming council meetings on the Internet, publishing all important town documents (monthly financial statements, engineering reports, expense claims of council, staff and mayor) on the Town’s website.
• Do an “Infrastructure Review”. Engage the residential and commercial ratepayers to participate in the process. Find out where the priorities are, what is currently working and what needs to be improved. Seek citizen engagement to ensure that Stellarton is providing the infrastructure needed, while also preparing for future growth.
• Be a consensus builder and work with other municipalities to deliver quality services to Stellarton residents at the lowest possible cost.