Municipal election 2021 – Get to know your candidates; Saint Andrews

In this edition of the Courier, you’ll find details on candidates running for council seats in our coverage areas in the Monday, May 10 election. All those who provided phone/email contact information to Elections NB were contacted and invited to participate. Each candidate was provided the same questions, and a maximum word count for the return document.

We are running the candidates alphabetically, both geographically and by name.

There is not a listing for St. Stephen as the council will be named by acclaim.

Coverage for those running for mayor in the region will be in the Tuesday, May 4 edition of The Saint Croix Courier.

editor@stcroixcourier.ca

SAINT ANDREWS Electing six councillors.

Kate Akagi

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

I am running for a council seat in my municipal election because I believe I have something to offer. I have lived in my community of Saint Andrews having been born here, and also there are so few women running. I think women should have a voice.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

Having been on the previous councils and wishing to be re-elected. I would like to see the short term R=rentals by-law completed, the wharf as well, and with COVID ever on our plates, a safe environment for the town through this awful time.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

We are in need of housing for students and for people coming to our town for work. We need a plan to help us grow our town yet do it safely through this covid period.

Edie Bishop

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

I am running for council as I believe I have a civic responsibility to give back to my beautiful community of Saint Andrews. I have many years of experience on council and I believe I can be of value in moving our town forward.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

I would say that more housing of various types and more affordable housing is very much needed, especially for families, students, seniors, and workers coming to our town. This would be a very high priority for me if elected.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

Our community runs on volunteers; I would like to see a policy put in place that would grant them the recognition, credit they deserve for all the hours of work they put in. Small towns cannot function without volunteers.

Marc Blanchard

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

After having lived and worked in Saint Andrews for the last 17 years, I feel as though we are at a critical juncture in determining the direction our town will take.  My educational background and experience as a public servant, has provided me with unique opportunities to work in science and the environment while at the same time working on equality and social justice issues. The combination of this work experience along with my community involvement through youth sports, I believe would allow me to make a meaningful contribution to discussions at council, ensuring that growth is sustainable and fair to all.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected? 

There are a number of immediate issues that will have to be dealt with as we head into another summer season, unsure as to whether or not we are moving past COVID or potentially facing new provincial restrictions.  This will require council to be focused and quick to take actions. As far as issues outside of COVID, I would like to make the development and implementation of a strategic housing plan a priority.  The issue of affordable housing, having the right mix of housing options and long term rentals are some of the biggest issues we are facing.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

I would like to see the greening of the town infrastructure as a new policy.  There are unprecedented levels of funding available from different levels of government to assist with the transition, and the move to net zero could result in significant savings for the town that could be reinvested or potentially reduce the costs of different services.

 A policy that looks at new growth and development through a climate change lens with the intention to mitigate and adapting to the impacts of climate change on both new and existing infrastructure.

I would also like to see the establishment of a youth town council.  This program would engage and give voice to the next generation of Saint Andrews citizens.

Tyler Dougherty

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

I am running for Saint Andrews town council because I believe we need fresh blood on council who are willing to take a more progressive approach at the towns issues. I am a lifelong resident of Saint Andrews and I want to help my town thrive and flourish. I have been following the council meetings for several years and am ready to step in to help make positive change. We have had the same council for five years and as many know they were acclaimed. This means the citizens didn’t have a choice in the previous election. This is the time for people to stand up and make a choice. A choice for what they want the future of our town to look like.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

I would tackle the issue of long-term rental property. Everyone in the town and surrounding area knows we are in a housing shortage and something needs to happen immediately. We can’t continue to lose-out on the growth potential for our town. We shouldn’t and can’t take this issue lightly.

Through many conversations with business owners I have concluded that we need to do better as a town to help incentives and work with developers. Perhaps we need to make amendments to some town rules to get the ball rolling on this and we need to start now. The current council has had five long years to do this and we are no further ahead now then we were five years ago. The situation we are in should have never been allowed to reach this level.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

A program I would put in place would be a housing committee. I believe we can achieve much more as a community with citizen participation. This should be done as soon as possible so we can get to work and focus on the main issues we are dealing with as a town. I would like to start a road paving and maintenance program. As most people I’m sure would agree we need to have nicely maintained roads leading into town as those make a first impression on visiting tourists. There is no need that a town of Saint Andrews caliber has shoddy, uneven bumpy roads filled with patches. We should take more pride in that for our town.

Guy Groulx

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

I have been a resident of Saint Andrews since 2013. I am retired, so I have the time to focus on council issues.

I have 30 years experience managing and building public infrastructure including six years as the Chief of Asset Management Services for Parks Canada setting policy and guidance on the management of $11 billion dollars in infrastructure including five resort towns. I spent three years as a senior project manager managing over $400 million dollars in construction projects. I understand the infrastructure challenges facing our community because I have been there on the front lines.

I have a Masters degree in civil engineering and a Masters degree in business administration

I have been a councillor since 2014, and take my responsibility seriously by being well prepared for every meeting and listening to my constituents. As a councillor I am there to represent the public, not to forward my own agenda.

I take an active role in making our community a better place. I am a member of the Kiwanis Club which donates thousands of dollars to the community every year; I am on the board of SORTI which manages our trail system; I am the president of Katy’s Cove Incorporated dedicated to restoring Katy’s Cove; I volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross, and I initiated/coordinated the free home delivery service and wellness checks in response to COVID.

I am re-offering as a councillor because the town is at a critical point in its development with municipal reform, housing and affordability issues. I feel with my academic background, training and experience that I can make a positive contribution to the town.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

Affordability is becoming a real issue for many in Saint Andrews. Data from provincial annual reports show that residential taxes in Saint Andrews have gone up by 27 per cent over the last five years which is too much. The soaring real estate market will undoubtedly lead to much higher taxes and kill growth if nothing is done. I am advocating an immediate reduction in the tax rate from $1.26 to $1.20 or a 5 per cent reduction which will cost the town $180,000 and reduce the five-year gains from 27 per cent to 21 per cent. I will also advocate for future reductions in the tax rate to offset increases in property assessments so that the average annual increases in taxes paid by the taxpayer are capped at 2 per cent. This is my top priority as your councillor.

A recent housing study done by the Regional Service Commission indicated that there is a shortage of housing, particularly affordable housing in Saint Andrews. I am a strong advocate of affordable housing and will continue to work hard on your behalf to ensure that the housing needs for people of all incomes are met.

We are custodians of the town for future generations and must always develop in a sustainable manner. This means that we must carefully manage debt levels; maintain our infrastructure in good condition; aggressively seek out funds from other levels of government; and protect our culture, heritage, environment and beautiful vistas, they are the reasons why Saint Andrews is so special.

The provincial government has announced a Municipal Reform initiative that will likely be introduced in the legislature this fall. This Municipal Reform will be complex, involving considerable change and will likely involve amalgamation with neighbouring local service districts. This significant change could dramatically alter the shape of Saint Andrews on a number of different levels. As a seasoned councillor with a thorough knowledge of the Local Governance Act, Community Planning Act and other applicable legislation, I can advocate to ensure Saint Andrews gets a fair deal.

Kurt Gumushel

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

As a lifelong resident of Saint Andrews, I feel I have much to contribute to moving our community forward while maintaining those things that make our town such a special place to grow-up, live, work, and raise a family. I think that serving on town council is a great way to contribute to the community and better understand how key elements like planning and design, collaboration and building strong relationships will create and sustain a unique and diverse community like Saint Andrews.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

The most important issue facing Saint Andrews is the need for growth. Economic growth and population growth. Luckily, Saint Andrews has a number of anchor businesses and institutions the town can work with to help drive the growth we need. By taking a leadership role, the town can address issues like the housing shortage and drive the growth that we need to be more than a bedroom community to St. Stephen or Saint John. We have all of the essentials right here in our town, and by working together with anchor businesses and institutions we can extend the summer season and make Saint Andrews a vibrant, thriving, four seasons community.

We were fortunate to attract a second doctor to our community and it is this same sort of recruitment attitude that is needed to attract a dentist and other professionals who will come and settle in Saint Andrews and raise their families. The ability to work from home makes Saint Andrews that much more attractive to urban professionals. Our ability to recruit young families to move to Saint Andrews is enhanced by the strength of our schools and the many recreational opportunities we have, including the Van Horne Trail, the Yacht Club, the Kingsbrae Gardens, Sunbury Shores, Minister’s Island, the arena and the golf course.

As we work to continue to diversify and enhance amenities like these, with the creation of outdoor exercise parks and wheelchair accessible bird watching platforms, it makes our community much more attractive to newcomers while improving the quality of life for town residents. Again, the town council and staff have a leadership role to play in this recruitment process, this strategy for growth, and by working and collaborating as a team we can grow our town and enhance its diversity while keeping in place all the things that make it special.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

In northeastern New Brunswick, the Veloroute on the Acadian Peninsula has been a game changer for that area by creating safe bicycle routes for visitors who have flocked there and rejuvenated the local economy. We are well on our way to having similar infrastructure in Southwestern New Brunswick with the Coastal Link Trail which will bring visitors and create safe spaces for locals to bike and hike, not only to Saint Andrews, but to all of Charlotte County.

After all, we are all in this together in Southwestern N.B., and what’s good for Saint Andrews is also what’s good for Charlotte County. Being cooperative and taking a leadership role is not a new program or policy, but I think that being cooperative and taking a leadership role is exactly what is needed to produce the growth that we need. An attitude that focuses on growth, recruitment, leadership and building partnerships needs to start at town hall with the mayor and town councillors, and I hope to be a part of this renewal. New ideas are needed. I hope the residents of Saint Andrews will please vote for Kurt Gumushel on May 10 for town council.

Lee Heenan

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

I retired to Saint Andrews three years ago, and I have worked in numerous fields, Tourism NB, UNB, retail and I would like to bring a new perspective to council. I am a people person and “not shy” so I think I could be an asset on a council. I sit on many boards/church committees like the Charlotte County Hospital foundation board, elected by our council to be the Saint Andrews representative.

I have called bingo at CHCO and been a board member of that organization for more than two years, removed myself due to conflict of interest for running for council. This experience with CHCO-TV station has allowed me to get the feel of the town and county and province.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

Saint Andrews is a tourist destination; I would like to tackle getting a proper visitor information center (VIC) in place to showcase our town. We in Saint Andrews depend on the tourism dollar be it foreign or local. I feel the development of Katy’s Cove is a town asset. We need to maintain a positive tax flow and the tax and employment spin-offs are important to our town and region, it can only benefit all. We need these dollars to allow the citizens to have a respectable property tax billing schedule.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

There are far too many to mention, but I strongly would like to see an “unsightly” policy brought into place, to clear up some of the issues of neglected property in the town, and to follow through with the policy.

I would like to see transparency among the town and council. Transparency is a “buzz word” that all levels of governments use, but I feel Council in Saint Andrews can be transparent with the correct members in place.

Kevin Kiley

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

Having served two prior terms on council and enjoying my time, I desired to return to the table once I retired and this election is the first opportunity I have had to offer. In order for Saint Andrews to grow it must look at change, new initiatives, and fresh ideas. Council should consider any change through the filtered lens of what makes the town uniquely, “Saint Andrews” and be guided by the municipal plan. Being a former graduate and long-time teacher at Sir James Dunn Academy and having family roots here, I have the knowledge, experience and insights to facilitate change through the appreciation of what makes Saint Andrews special.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

There are several issues and concerns that have been circulating around town but the one that appears to have received the most attention is housing. Affordable housing concerns are not new to Saint Andrews, while previously serving on council we faced similar issues. I was a member of the council that spearheaded the growth of the Champlain sub-division which now has 90 plus homes. My former insights and experiences gained during that time would allow me to help guide council with the issue of helping to provide more affordable building lots, long-term rental buildings and a variety of other housing options. Council needs to work with experts and developers to address this issue.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

The provincial government is in discussions with the people of the province regarding municipal governance changes. It appears that changes in policies for municipalities and local service districts are coming to the table and Council must be ready to interact with the provincial government to be sure that these changes will not negatively affect the municipalities’ ability to continue to provide services in a cost effective way. It is important to have people around the council table at this time who have experience interacting with provincial officials and have an understanding of the workings of municipal government. My past experiences serving on council and serving on other boards dealing with provincial officials would help me assist with this forth coming issue here in Saint Andrews.

Troy Lyons

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

I have volunteered for over 30 years including serving as a judge at regional and national science fairs as well as coaching several teams, including Timbits soccer when living in Saint Andrews 20 years ago. A personal favourite quote of mine is from the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy; “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, challenging all to contribute in some way to the public good. Volunteers play a vital role in society, the rewards it brings to both the community and to those whom partake are immeasurable and I look back with great fondness on these experiences. I am a civil servant employed by the provincial government as an environmental biologist in a research capacity and am very accustomed to working with others in a structured team environment. Entering political life is something I have always considered, and for me, another form to give back to my community. I am running for a council seat as I see both challenges and opportunities presently as well as in the near and distant future and feel that my background may be an asset to the new council.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

In the first weeks of the new council, I would like for council to review of the current town COVID protocols to ensure it is best plan to maximize the safety for our citizens and visitors while minimizing the impact to our business community. As numerous variants are now within our region, this review would include ensuring any new information provided since the construction of the current plan is considered in any amendment to this plan.

Most successful outcomes have a plan, so once it is felt that challenges associated with the pandemic have been best addressed, issues I would like to tackle include the development of a strategic housing plan as well as for council to begin discussions on items contained within the recently released transportation master plan. A housing plan will give guidance with respect to the best path forward for future development while beginning the process to identify potential partners (federal, provincial, private) for projects proposed within the plan. Changes proposed by the province associated with municipal reform, which is currently released for public input (Green Paper), will bring new challenges and opportunities for the town, making a strategic plan that much more import so that potential changes within the Municipalities Act may be considered within the new strategic housing plan. With respect to traffic, the new transportation plan does contain information that may assist in addressing some of the issues the town currently experiences as well as those it will experience as the town begins to grow. For instance, the town currently has a lack of parking and sidewalks, addressing these issues will make the community more convenient to visit while at the same time increasing safety for the citizens and visitors to the town.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

The first policy I would to put in place would be to incorporate changes with respect to how council meetings are held and communicated to the residents, resulting in a better experience for all citizens. For instance, I would table that Agendas be structured in such a way so as to prioritize popular items first, allowing citizens the choice to watch the entire meeting or just the agenda item(s) of interest. To effectively accomplish this, I would also bring forth to council that time limits be incorporated into each agenda item and adhered to so as to allow citizens the choice to begin viewing part way though the meeting. I also would support more frequent and efficient communication methods such as short meeting summary videos made by a member(s) of town council. Post pandemic, I also would support the continued broadcast of meetings as is currently done as it provides a convenient way to attend and stay informed.

Steve Neil

Why are you running for a council seat in your region?

Saint Andrews has been home for my family for the last 23 years. There is a tremendous pride and sense of community in Saint Andrews that drives me to want to actively contribute to the town. For 15 years I have been an active volunteer firefighter and currently serve as Captain. I spent 10 years volunteering to coach youth hockey and soccer while serving on the boards of each in various positions including vice president and president. My decision to run for a seat on council was not taken lightly. I have always taken a strong interest in the issues surrounding our town, and I truly believe that with my dedication, enthusiasm and strong work ethic I can help serve the town and it’s residents as we move forward. Our town deserves a strong council, and if elected I will work to ensure open, constructive communication and transparency while focusing on the needs of its residents and working toward a bright future for the Town of Saint Andrews.

What is the first issue you’d like to tackle if elected?

Saint Andrews has a housing shortage. Recent census data shows the population of Saint Andrews to be in decline, and below the level of critical mass often referenced in regards to small rural communities. That being said, Saint Andrews has tremendous growth potential in areas such as health and wellness, science, education, the arts, and tourism and hospitality. However we cannot attract investment in our community without appropriate and affordable housing options. In order to foster this growth and inspire investment in our community, the next council will have to address the housing shortages as a whole, from vacation rentals and student housing to long term rentals and increasing affordable housing stock. We also need to consider appropriate and affordable options for seniors which will allow them to age in place or obtain the necessary care required. Additional seniors housing complexes and the proposed revitalization of the Passamaquoddy Lodge are key components to the overall housing issue that will need to be addressed by the new council.

What new program/policy would you like to put in place?

In order to properly address the housing issues in Saint Andrews, I believe the new council has a great opportunity to work proactively with the town, the business community and the residents in developing a long term strategic plan for our community. We need to balance and prioritize the housing requirements while at the same time encouraging investment and growth in our town. We need to listen and work with existing businesses that often have difficulty attracting new staff due to lack of housing options. A long term strategic plan will ensure we have the appropriate housing options to promote Saint Andrews and attract new investment, while also ensuring we maintain our small town historic charm. This is a great opportunity for our town, and if elected I promise to bring the same passion and conviction to every issue before council.

Those running who did not respond:

James Hirtle

Ryan MacPhatter

Casey Murray

Johnathan Stockall