Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Change occurs on local councils

Opinion

Voters who cast ballots in Pictou County during municipal elections on Saturday voted generally for change.

It is not overwhelming change and is subject to official vote totals which were to be completed on Tuesday, as well as some possible recounts, but there is prevailing change on some councils.

As of this writing, four of Pictou County’s five towns have different candidates occupying mayors’ seats on their councils.

Dan MacGillivray’s victory over incumbent Joe Gennoe in Stellarton, narrow as it was, may have been a surprise to some. Planks both candidates ran on were similar. Gennoe also campaigned on experience, but MacGillivray’s relative youth appears to have been an asset. Water and the business park are logical areas to work on in Stellarton, but MacGillivray is also seeking better co-operation among neighbouring communities through a more effective mayors’ and warden’s committee.

Nancy Dicks defeated Henderson Paris by a slightly wider margin to become New Glasgow’s second female mayor. Issues espoused by Dicks in her acceptance remarks that include more engagement with citizens in general and youth and downtown businesses in particular, are compelling and signal an interesting shift in emphasis in the town.

Municipal politics can be costly. Both Dicks and Paris gave up seats on council to run for mayor.

Pictou elected as its mayor Jim Ryan, a retired educator who has never sat on its council, and named four replacements on council. Pictou and Stellarton councils have the least experience among its respective members, but Dan Currie served for years on Pictou’s council and as mayor before successfully campaigning for a council seat and will be a valuable mentor for his colleagues.

Incumbent Roger MacKay won re-election as mayor of Westville, while former Mayor Shannon MacInnis has returned as Mayor of Trenton. He will be joined by incumbent council member Don Hussher and former council member Alex Dove, as well as newcomers V. J. Earle who, because of having the highest number of votes cast, will serve as deputy mayor, and Steve Stewart.

Pictou County Municipal Council’s main theme was the nine members who were re-elected, but there was also a one-vote difference in the totals for incumbent Jamie Davidson and challenger Peter Boyles and two sitting council members lost head-to-head votes with incumbents in reconfigured districts.

David Parker won District 7 against Leonard Fraser, a long-serving member in the former District 8, while Andy Thompson won a close vote in District 11 against Scott Johnston, who had returned to District 14 in 2012 after an absence of more than a decade.

The electoral risks for Fraser and Johnston mirrored Paris’.

Now we wait: for old councils to complete their work, new councils to be sworn in and citizens to view what the future holds in Pictou County.

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