Municipal election 2021 – Get to know your candidates; St. George

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.

ST. GEORGE – Electing six councillors.

Leslie Armstrong

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

• I care about our community

• I have fresh ideas and a bold voice

• I am passionate in growing our town

• I would like to see our tourism be revived again

• I feel that my experience and background as a business owner and a government financial worker, can help provide new vision and ideas

• And …there are a few things that need fixin’.

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

The first issue I would tackle if elected would be to help find a solution to the ever-increasing speeding problem and the use of off-road vehicles on our streets. Vehicles travelling more than 100 km’s on local streets needs to stop. There are several, well proven products which can immediately address these issues. We must work together with law enforcement and governments to implement a long term, effective solution.

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

My experience tells me there are several financial programs from not only government organizations, but also from private and corporate sponsors, who are interested in funding community growth, affordable housing projects, tourism, arts and culture, street beautification, recreation, and community health and wellness. If we can access some of this financial support, I would focus on the following programs:

• We will offer business owners located on the front street a “front façade, lighting and signage beautification grant” up to a maximum of $5,000 per business. This will help create a beautiful, welcoming front street and downtown core.

• We would hire a recreation director and an assistant, to develop, implement and manage programs, specifically for our youth and seniors, in promoting health and wellness, utilizing existing town properties and facilities.

• We need to revive the abandoned waterfront Day Adventure buildings. What was once a thriving, bustling, tourist destination centre, needs to be brought back to life. Kid’s day camps, kayaking, canoeing, riverboat tours, bike rentals, guided hiking tours, lobster bakes and so much more, needs to offered again in providing town residents and guests an unforgettable experience

• There are existing programs which can help provide good quality, affordable housing to our residents. We need to partner with developers and provide incentives to encourage the development of 36 new residential housing units, consisting of a combination of garden homes, apartments, and single-family dwellings. This should be our three year goal.

• We must make our elected representatives more accountable and transparent in spending of our taxpayer’s dollars. I do not believe we are always getting the best value for our hard-earned dollar. If we promote ourselves in our slogan as “Community Strong”, we must look at supporting those within our own community. We have local businesses with skillsets and expertise who can provide professional services without giving this work away.

If I am elected, my promise to each resident in St George is, to be their voice and advocate in helping make our town a better place to live, work, and visit. St. George can be a place everyone will be proud of.

Let’s work together to make a difference.

Brooke Bacher

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

I have lived in a number of places in my life from big cities to small towns and I have never felt more passionately about any place than I do of St. George. Over the last nine years I have both worked and volunteered with the Community Living Center, as well as served on its board of directors, I was an event planner for the Town of St. George where I was able to create a children and youth weekend program called Knacktivities and am currently the Program Coordinator for the YMCA. Concurrent with all of this I have cared for two individuals with special needs who reside in my home (known as an Alternate Family Living Arrangement). While working with the Community Living Center I had initiated the Mobi Mat Project with the People First Organization which was a project created to make Canal Beach wheelchair accessible, in the summer of 2020 we succeeded in getting a cement walkway installed, as well as rolled out the Mobi Mat, making it the first wheelchair accessible beach in Southern New Brunswick. St. George deserves a council that will advocate for all of it’s residents, someone who is passionate about this town and understands the potential that it has, and I know that that is something I can provide.

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

I feel that there are a number of important issues facing St. George right now, and it’s difficult to choose which ones should be deemed as most important. For me, I believe the effects that the pandemic has had on the mental health of many community members is one issue that needs to be made a priority. Mental health, while spoken about often, always seems to get put on the back burner, and I want to do what I can to help.

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

One of the things I hope to bring to St. George is more organized sports and activities for people of all ages, as well as better promoting the ones that are already here. It has been proven that these sorts of things positively influence mental health. Issues with mental health can start at such a young age, so I feel that it is important now more than ever that we have these opportunities available to the members of our community.

Gil Breau

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

I am a lifelong resident of St. George, and after benefiting from our town and surrounding community for so long, I want to give back and contribute in continuing to establish a strong community for others to live in. I have been involved in local charity work through the local Masonic lodge, hosting fundraising events weekly, and establishing/contributing to local programs such as the school breakfast programs, Books for Bikes, and the backpack program in town. I have also participated on the town events committee in the past few years, volunteering time to participate in many hosted events, and collaborating with the committee in order to organize regular events in town.

I feel that being a councilor is the next progressive step forward in continuing to be involved and to help progress the town.. I have a background in economics, and my knowledge of finances and policy would be unique assets to leverage is debates and discussions., I feel all of this lends itself to being a strong councillor.

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

Residential issues would be a priority. With the attraction for many outside of Atlantic Canada to now move here due to the positive view of our pandemic response. The issue is, however, how do we convince people that our town is a great place to move, while at the same time not alienating those current residents that may not want much to change?

Continuing to encourage and attract new owners and rental units to build in town through positive policies and zoning would be key. Promoting and attracting local businesses that support our residents with relevant services is another need. Continuing to build recreation and related facilities for all ages would be the third facet of attracting and retaining people who call St. George home.

Another issue of concern is the potential for municipal reform that has been brought up by the provincial government. I feel that we must be proactive in our communications with other municipalities in our region, and ensure that we aren’t just on the receiving end of any policy given to us from Fredericton, but rather at the forefront of shaping that policy to best benefit us and others around us.

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

More recreational activity for all ages for be a priority in my mind. Past councils have successfully put in place features for children and seniors, but the town is missing facilities for adults. Focus on programs that integrate with other community programs without competing in order to attract and retain residents to our communities. Further establishing a relationship with the YMCA in town, and expanding their presence would be one of the avenues where I see this being a potential successful application.

Nancy Coulton

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

My years of working both in the private sector and the Federal Government in an administrative capacity has given me the experience in dealing with contentious issues, the general public, budgets, contracts, government departments and bureaucracy. I believe I am a fair and open minded person. I don’t have a hidden agenda or pet peeve while running for council. My only goal is to better the town and help its residents in any way that I can while being fiscally responsible.

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

Look for ways to obtain additional funding for mental health, affordable housing and the town’s infrastructure. Look for cost effective ways to bring additional revenue into the town in the areas of tourism and new business

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

Develop the Day Adventure Center into a place where locals and tourists alike can enjoy year round. Work with local clubs and organizations to make the town a place where people want to visit and live.

David Hooper

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

I am running for a seat on St George council again, after a break of five years, because I believe the present council has lost focus of the primary responsibilities of a council, which is to provide essential service to our community. Essential services include safe and sufficient supply of drinking water, proper sewage disposal, safe roads and sidewalks all year round, adequate policing services. These essential services must be provide while maintaining a reasonable tax rate. I believe the tax rate in St George is now at the upper limit of what many of our residents can afford and it must be a priority to minimize future property tax increases whether from tax rate or property assessment increases.

Council must also strive for the town and residents to offer more services to our community such as  year around recreation, more affordable housing, and more diverse services as in shopping and dining.

The town has made major improvements in creating new and upgraded green spaces but all these existing and future facilities and projects must not result in a continuous increase in property taxes. 

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

I  would like to have the council perform an assessment of the towns operation, which would included staff levels, vehicles and heavy equipment requirements plus an analysis of overall operations and expenses to look for savings and efficiencies that could be enacted. A long-term plan should be developed for ongoing replacement of all necessary heavy equipment so these costs are considered when determining the next year’s budget. 

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

Changes I would like to see put in place would start with a more open council where there is actual discussion on agenda items before a vote is taken by council. Also, council should strictly follow the municipalities act regulations pertaining to items that can be discussed in closed meetings. 

If council was more open and invested the time at monthly meetings to have discussion before an item is voted upon we would have increase in resident involvement in the community’s affairs. 

Barbara Rayner

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

St. George has been my home for 40 years and, now that I am retired, I would like to give something back to the town that has been very good to me. During the more than 20 years I covered this area for The Saint Croix Courier – and before that for the Telegraph-Journal – I attended many, many council meetings and I am very familiar with the municipal government process. My former job also gave me the opportunity to meet with many people and hear their opinions. I am a former school board trustee and, in the past, have served on the boards of such organizations as Fundy Community Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Charlotte County Archives. Currently I am secretary of the management committee of St. George Presbyterian Kirk.

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

I have no hidden agenda. My primary goal, if elected, would be to see St. George grow and prosper. The town is fortunate to have major employers like Cooke Aquaculture and I would like to see more small businesses developed providing opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. New Brunswick has not been badly affected by COVID-19, and there are now people moving here from other provinces which have been hard hit by the pandemic, to purchase properties or set up businesses. Let’s encourage more people from both near and far to set up businesses here and realize what a great place St. George is to live. Perhaps the new council could spearhead a committee with those goals.

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

The incoming council will, hopefully, spend time setting its goals and objectives for the next four years. This would give everyone around the table the opportunity to suggest any new programs or policies they would like to see put in place. If elected, I personally have no particular program or policy I wish to champion but would like to hear what others have to say then it would be up to the entire council to decide how to go forward. Goals can only be achieved if all those elected work together to bring them to fruition. Previous councils have worked hard to improve things in St. George and kudos to them. I would like to see that work continue with the newly elected council whoever that will be.

Those running who did not respond:

Brenda Allison

Alexa Detorakis

Sterling Harris

Archie Leslie

Cynthia Macphearson

Sam Rubin