This has been an extraordinary municipal election campaign in Pictou County.
Keen interest, with few exceptions, has been shown among candidates for mayor and council seats in the five towns and in all but two of the 12 remaining seats on Pictou County Municipal Council.
It is always troubling when sitting members of municipal councils and school boards are acclaimed. Just two of the five seats in the Celtic Family of Schools with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board are being contested, and the general lack of knowledge of candidates by voters over the years has not been encouraging. Nor has the voting percentage for school board candidates.
Mayor and council seats are being contested in New Glasgow, Pictou, Stellarton and Trenton. Only in Stellarton among those towns is the incumbent campaigning for mayor. Three candidates, including the incumbent, have decided to contest the office of mayor in Westville, but all its sitting councillors were acclaimed.
Reducing the number of county council seats from 14 to 12 for the 2016 municipal election has required two sitting council members to vie for District 7, which includes areas that once occupied District 8. It pits long-serving representatives David Parker from District 7 and Leonard Fraser from District 8 against each other. That fact they knew this was coming for considerable time has allowed them to prepare.
What has also happened in the new District 7 and other districts, according to reports, is that some voters are uncertain in what district they now reside.
Something else has changed the local political landscape. The two-pronged issue of Pulse Pictou County conducting consultations this fall and the persistent profile of the Amalgamation No Thank You group’s campaign long after a No vote in the amalgamation plebiscite last spring cannot be ignored.
Neither group existed four years ago.
Pulse consists of young people interested in encouraging more youth to come and stay in Pictou County, to help the region achieve its full potential and purpose.
It is easy to understand what Pulse and Amalgamation No Thank You (ANTY) represent. Pulse members sound notes of compassion and vision that members of the ANTY group do not.
ANTY has sought to plow salt in the soil of amalgamation so that the idea will never resurface. Pulse has continued to find common ground.
The famed baseball pitcher Satchel Paige once said for us not to look back, for something may be gaining on us. The future is passing by Pictou County on our watch, while ANTY looks back and Pulse looks ahead.
This week and on Election Day, local citizens need to look hard at what is at stake.