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…
SHAWN McNAMARA, Pictou
What compelled you to run as mayor of your community?
After being away from council for four years, the decision to get back into politics was an easy one. I spent eight years on council and I learned a lot and really enjoyed it. I’m a people person and although I lost in the last election, I didn’t disappear. I stayed focused in and with the town and got involved with the Lobster Carnival and the Lions Club, to name a couple of things.
What do you feel are the three main priorities your town is facing?
Not in any certain order, water is a big issue – not only the colour but the pressure as well. Roads which have only been patched over the last four years are another issue. I also think of declining of our population, but I think it’s all across the province. We have to try to get people back into our town and jobs. Now we have a fourth priority: our schools and shipping our kids out of town by bus. This can’t happen!
What are the future prospects of your town?
We have to get people into our town, the declining population is just going down and down and we have to look at inviting more businesses to come into our town and keep people here, especially young people. Another thing is spending wisely. I was brought up that if you worry about the pennies, the dollars would take care of themselves. I really believe that. We are doing a lot of spending, and some of it is unnecessary. Examples are: contracting work to outside companies which our guys might be able to do; bulk buying with other towns to save money, just to name a few.
What do you feel the future of “amalgamation/shared services” is for the community?
People spoke and we have to honour the people’s wishes. Personally, I was a ‘no’ vote because it was rushed; the government pushed for speed to get it done and I feel there were a lot of I’s not dotted and T’s not crossed and a lot of unanswered questions. For me to vote for something that involves our future and nothing was forecasted even five years, spoke volumes. There is a lot of information about cost sharing that we need to look at. That was the purpose of amalgamation in the first place, to save. Now let’s jump on that and work together to find ways for our town to save, which will help the town and the citizens.
How do you think you can better/improve the town? And what would you do differently?
One of our main problems in Pictou is lack of communication. We need to talk to the people and we need to listen to them as well. We have tried to get people to our council meeting but to no avail. This past month door knocking, I was really surprised at the amount of people that wanted me to go into their homes and sit down to discuss their concerns. One common topic was that, ‘every four years at voting time, is the only time some of them see us, and the only chance they get to voice their concerns’. I want to have an open phone line policy through the town office for the mayor. I promise you that I will get back to you. And instead of going to Tim’s for a coffee, maybe some people would rather sit in the comfort of their home and talk, and that would be fine with me. This might be small but I think it’s really important; we have to get the input of the people. And that’s just one way of doing it. Also, we need to focus on spending money more wisely. For example: bulk buying, contracting and looking at other ways within the six municipal units that we might be able to help each other by helping ourselves in that aspect.