When MODG council meets for the first time after last weekend’s municipal election, familiar faces will be seated around the table. Only four of the eight councillors in the MODG faced elections: Miles MacDonald, Sheila Pelly, Ricky McLaren and Fin Armsworthy. All of whom won their seats. All other councillors held their seats by acclamation.
In some district races the vote was close. Pelly took the District 2 council seat over her sole opponent Mary Desmond by one vote. Pelly said she was pleased with the election results and identified housing and jobs as challenges in her district. “The need for this community is affordable housing. The African Nova Scotian communities have declined in population but it is mostly due to housing. There are many that have come home but there is no place to live; that has been on my agenda for a long time.
“And of course jobs for young people who are looking for work...There are lots of things in the community we can do. I think that in the next four years I can pull something off,” said Pelly, who has held the District 2 seat since 2004.
Incumbent Miles MacDonald won the District 1 seat. He told The Journal on Sunday, “I am very pleased with the result and looking forward to getting back to the council table.”
When asked what challenges he foresaw in the coming four years MacDonald stated, “I think we just want to continue on the path that we are on. We certainly want to see something happen with the projects that will bring jobs...If we can continue with the team work around the table we should continue to move in a positive direction.”
One of the most closely watched races in the MODG was the race for District 8 where incumbent Fin Armsworthy faced two challengers. He won the seat handily garnering more votes than his two opponents combined. “I am very happy to be able to represent District 8, the former town of Canso and the Tickle. There was a good turn out at the polls and I have a good mandate.”
Looking to the future Armsworthy said the challenges are the same as the ones the area has faced for the past four years: employment and taxes.
Armsworthy would like to see District 8 get some tax relief and bring district taxes in line with other areas in the MODG.
Speaking of jobs, Armsworthy is hopeful that the Vulcan quarry project in Black Point will bring much needed employment to the area. “If Vulcan comes on we may get some more people, start to bring back some jobs and get some families to stay here.”
Armsworthy credits his election team with the success of his campaign, “We were working every week to make sure the vote got out.”
Ricky McLaren also handily won his District 7 seat, taking just over 90 per cent of all votes cast. He said he was very pleased with the support he was given by the voters and would work hard on their behalf whether they voted for him or not.
McLaren sees the biggest challenge facing his District and the MODG as a whole as attracting industry. “It gives the municipality a good tax base...We are going to need it with Sable winding down. If you get industries in here and provide work it will bring some people home too.”
Road conditions were also a concern in McLaren’s district but highway infrastructure is not under the purview of municipalities. Be that as it may, McLaren said he would work through council to lobby the provincial government to work on highway infrastructure. “Everybody in Nova Scotia deserves a good road.”
In the adjoining district, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, a few new faces will be taking a seat at the council table later this month. Councillors David Clark and Kevin Pye did not reoffer. Their vacant seats attracted several nominees and were won by Rennie Beaver (District 3/5) and Beulah Malloy (District 4).
Councillors Debbie Findlay and Everett Baker also faced election contests and won their respective seats. All other council seats were uncontested.
St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher said of the election, “We welcome two new councillors at the table and we look forward to working with them over the next four years.”
He added, “We’re thankful to have participation in the election process. The fact that they (voters and nominees) participated is very important in the democratic process...Everyone should always go out and vote.”