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…
Mark Firth, New Glasgow
What compelled you to run as mayor of your community?
I am running for mayor of New Glasgow for the same reasons that compelled me to run for mayor in the 2012 election. This is my second attempt because of the encouragement I receive. I feel that I can lead council into changing policy for the betterment of New Glasgow. I am very well connected with a personal and professional network of people who say they want change. There have been too many municipal issues that have been discussed that show mismanagement of our tax dollars. I personally would love to see a municipal audit so we can all see exactly what financial state we are in. My main goal would be to be transparent and fiscally responsible, along with improvement to essential services and town management.
What do you feel are the three main priorities/issues your town is facing?
#1 Taxes. Our property taxes are in the highest bracket for towns in Nova Scotia, both residential and commercial. If we want to increase tax income we should attract more homes and businesses, not over tax the current population. I would want to lower residential tax rates from $1.82 to $1.75 and the commercial rate from $4.40 down to $4 in my first year as mayor.
#2. Economic opportunities. We need jobs. I would work with provincial and federal governments, also current business owners to create jobs. Support our downtown by re-establishing the New Glasgow Development Commission. Also create a youth work program to support our younger generation in finding employment.
#3. Use of Current Assets. There has to be a use for John Brother Stadium versus a sale. I have stated many times that I would like to see Acadia Street School as a community centre for all community groups needing space. Also a youth centre with a mentorship program.
What are the future prospects of your town?
New Glasgow is the commercial centre of Pictou County which also includes the Aberdeen Hospital. We should also make efforts to include central Mental Health and Addiction Services and possibly a Mental Health Court. The New Glasgow Business Park is a perfect location for a federal and provincial partnership to support our increased need for these services.
What do you feel the future of “amalgamation/shared services” is for the community?
“Working together works”, so we have to find a way to work with all of Pictou County to “Move Forward Together”. The provincial government may force it on us in the near future. I think with all the interest in this election, that we will see many new faces that will encourage working together in all of Pictou County. We already invested the time into the paperwork, so I’m sure there is a plan to success.
How do you think you can better/improve the town?
I will work with all levels of governments and citizens to find out the needs of the community and bring solutions. It’s time to make New Glasgow a better place to work, live and play.
What would you do differently?
The biggest difference I would make would be to bring more public input into the decisions made for New Glasgow. I have a platform that will entice public participation, more like an open e-democracy with total transparency vs council and CAO-led decisions. Time for Change.