Municipal election 2021 – Meet the mayoral candidates for Blacks Harbour

BLACKS HARBOUR – Two candidates.

Heather Chase

Why are you running for mayor?

As the former chief administrative officer for the Village of Blacks Harbour, I have first-hand knowledge of many operational and infrastructure issues in our community. As a current member of council, I also have experience as a local elected official.

This unique perspective would serve me well as I continue to work in the best interests of our entire community.

With the exception of four years working in the private sector, I have spent my entire career supporting communities, both locally and provincially. In addition to municipal experience, I have spent over 20 years working in community development, including 10 years in community economic development.

I am an experienced leader with local knowledge.

I am running for the position of mayor so that I can use my skills and abilities to serve my community. Blacks Harbour is my home, and I would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be Mayor.

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

With a number of important opportunities and challenges facing our community, we are at a crossroads, and change is the only constant.

We can more successfully manage change if we have a strategic vision, and a plan to achieve that vision.

The first issue I would tackle would be the development and implementation of a strategic, long-term vision for Blacks Harbour and a related action plan.

This open and inclusive process would involve residents and taxpayers, as well as leaders of local businesses and service groups. The planning would be open and transparent so that all residents, including seniors, families and children, can be actively involved in the planning, development and implementation of a vision for our shared future.

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

It is important that every resident has the opportunity to share their voice and suggestions on key issues that impact Blacks Harbour, in a meaningful way. Currently there is no process in place that would allow individuals to participate in the on-going development of our community; however, I believe that is critical as we plan for the future.

In order to close this gap in public participation, I would establish a policy for the creation of a citizens’ advisory council. This group would be made-up of a broad cross section of residents that would provide regular input on the development of a strategic plan for the Village of Blacks Harbour, as well as be actively involved in its implementation.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing your municipality?

Blacks Harbour has many wonderful natural resources, and a strong sense of community. While we are fortunate to have many things going for us, our biggest issue is our financial situation. Our tax base has shrunk each of the last six years due to issues outside the control of the municipality, even though we have seen investments increase in our community.

The decrease in the tax base means that even if we hold the line on the tax rate, we do not generate the same amount of revenue, we generate less. All of this is happening while the cost of doing business is increasing, so we have to try and do more with less.

Our financial situation is the reason why I feel that it is extremely important to be actively involved in the local governance reform that is currently taking place in New Brunswick. Depending on the outcome of that work, the local government model could look very different and could have a very significant impact on our taxes.

It is extremely important that we are actively involved in any opportunity that will increase financial health of our community, both now and in the long-term.

John D. Craig

Why are you running for mayor?

I am running for mayor because I feel the Harbour needs new leadership and direction. I will make sure all decisions of council will be made openly and transparently. All decisions will be made with consultation with all the parties involved and those effected by any decision .

No action will take place until everything is done properly and voted on in an advertised council meeting so that all citizens have the opportunity to be heard .

Deliberating and discussing issues with all stakeholders so as to have unity in our community will always be a priority.

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

One of the first things I want the new council to do is order a forensic audit of the village books for the last five years. I want and will demand accountability with taxpayers money. With the sudden resignation of the last village manager and the hastened hiring of a new manager and a new council it would be the right time for a complete audit . This will give the new council an understanding where the money has been spent and most importantly why. It is time for a complete change at village hall with transparency and accountability being a top priority.

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

Communication and transparency have been a major problem in Blacks Harbour. I would like the council to accept having all regular council meetings videotaped and aired on the local television station as well having live broadcast on the internet.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing your municipality?

The biggest challenge is increasing the tax base. I want to work on creating more housing opportunities and bringing more diverse employment opportunities. I want more people to discover how beautiful and safe our village is so they want to call it home as all of us do.

I also want to form a separate committee to oversee the arena to ensure a bright future for this important building/asset. It will remain open and with the right people and partnerships it will be here for many more generations.