MODG election heating up with race in District 2

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
September 9 2020

GUYSBOROUGH – On the campaign trail you always hear the old saying, ‘your vote counts,’ or ‘one vote can make the difference’, but very few people actually think this is true. In the 2016 municipal election, one vote was all that stood between the two candidates running for the MODG District 2 seat, Sheila Pelly and Mary Desmond, with Pelly taking the win.

The 2020 election will be a rematch with the same two candidates squaring off to win the votes of the people in Sunnyville, Lincolnville and Upper Big Tracadie. Desmond announced her candidacy last week and spoke to The Journal about her decision to run once again, last Thursday.

“I’m the go-to person in the District,” said Desmond, noting that she is very active in the African Nova Scotian communities in the area and that if “you are doing the work of a councillor, you might as well run.”

Desmond has lived in Upper Big Tracadie for the past 20 years and her roots are in the community; she’s the granddaughter of Jane ‘Heb’ Reddick -- a well-respected local midwife in years gone by. A mother of three and a sibling to 21, Desmond’s career has been diverse from serving with Canadian Forces 35 Svc Battalion for six years, working as a RN for the federal government in Corrections, and filling the role of the first Parish Nurse in the Tracadie United Baptist Church.

Since returning to live in Upper Big Tracadie, Desmond has volunteered in a large number of organizations including, but not limited to, the Community Health Board, UBT/Lincolnville Education Committee, Mental Health Advisory Board, Royal Canadian Legion, Committee for Aboriginal and Black Student Success, Cultural Awareness and Education Program, Upper Big Tracadie Seniors Action Club, and the Antigonish Guysborough Seniors council.

When asked why she decided to run for council again, Desmond replied, “the pandemic shook up a lot of things in the community. This is the perfect time for a change in council.”

One of her top priorities, should she be elected to the council seat, is housing. “There are a lot of people that would like to come home but we need affordable housing. I have been to a lot of meetings about affordable housing but people with low-income can’t get into those. Affordable housing is a misnomer. We need low-income housing for people that want to come home and live in the community.

“I’d like to see some real low-income units. There are people living in extended families that would like to move out but they can’t because there is no place to go,” said Desmond, adding that she, “would like to see more training for our young people so they can stay home. There are jobs coming up but they don’t have the skills to stay.”

Having gone through the campaign process before, Desmond has some idea of what the weeks ahead will be like, but she knows the election process will be different this year due to COVID-19. “You can’t really go door-to-door; pamphlets and flyers – that will be my knock on the door. It’s going to be a challenge.”

The most important thing, said Desmond, is for everyone to vote. “For the last election I lost by one vote. A lot of people said, ‘Mary, I really thought you were going to get it. That's why I didn’t go out to vote.’ That one vote counts. If they want change —they really have to get out and vote. If they want a strong voice, I think that I am the one.”