Municipal election 2021 – Meet the mayoral candidates for Saint Andrews

SAINT ANDREWS – Two candidates.

Brad Henderson

Why are you running for mayor?

The simple answer is I love Saint Andrews and Charlotte County. We get to live where so many pay their hard-earned money just to be able to visit. I moved back to my hometown six years ago with my wife to raise our children in the same community I am so proud to have grown-up in. Being actively involved in continuing to make Saint Andrews a special place is a way for me to give back. I had no idea where that path would lead, but through working with other volunteers in the community, I was encouraged to offer for town council. Being the deputy mayor for the last five years has been an incredible experience and a great honour, but I am ready to take the next step to give our town a larger voice and more leadership with our challenges and opportunities.

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

The mayor is only one voice at the table, and only gets to vote on motions in the case of a tie. Council is a team. A team is more effective when it works together with common goals, and a proper understanding of the biggest challenges it will have to overcome to reach success. Every councillor will come to the table with their own priorities, and the mayor must act as the facilitator to identify the common will. After leveraging town staff and resources (municipal plan, housing studies, age friendly community checklist, etc.) to provide all members of council a foundation of understanding on key town issues, as mayor, I would like a strategic plan for the council’s entire term. This first step will provide council with a roadmap with specific timing so they can work together as one cohesive unit to address our community’s biggest issues.

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

I would like council to form a housing committee consisting of members in our community with government funding experience, developers, real estate agents, and ad hoc citizens. This committee would review our current bylaws around development, study other community’s incentives, and provide council with the framework to entice developers to help diversify our housing inventory. We have a lot of beautiful homes, but we need to look at the construction of affordable apartment units, garden homes, and more. These opportunities can happen without taking away from the historic appeal of the town plat. New Brunswick has never had a better time to grow, but it is a limited window that requires action now. Welcoming a few hundred residents to our town would help our current businesses thrive, keep our schools full, help pay for the services/assets we enjoy in the town, and provide new opportunity.

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

It is a pivotal time in our community as we work through, and hopefully soon out, of COVID times. Our community has been consistently increasing taxes and debt in recent history. Key assets to our community are aging and continue to cost the taxpayer of our small community millions. Our wharf was originally funded and maintained by the federal government, but after the 1993 fire, the town was forced to take over the costs. The arena was originally funded and maintained by a private philanthropist, but again the town had to take over this aging infrastructure. These assets and more absolutely must be maintained, but we need to come up with a financially viable plan as debt and increasing taxes is not sustainable. We don’t need to search hard for the solution as it is knocking at our door. We have a housing demand, and we need to increase our supply to make sure this community can be home to everyone.

On Monday, May 10, I humbly ask the residents of Saint Andrews for their consideration. A mayor is not just an honourary title, it is a crucial leadership role to move our community ahead. I am ready to get to work on this challenge and many more with your support.

Doug Naish (incumbent)

Why are you running for mayor?

I am the incumbent mayor. Since 2016, I have led a productive council that has accomplished much. There are important projects yet uncompleted and issues unresolved. I want to be a part of the solution to the new challenges we all face.

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

I would like to bring back to the table the Short Term Rental By-law, recently tabled by council. It is the first step in tackling the multi-faceted housing crisis we and other communities are facing. There are many moving parts which council has already begun to address, not the least of which are the rights and needs of tenants and landlords and ensuring the availability of appropriate, diversified and affordable housing for all.

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

In January 2021, Saint Andrews opened a new wellness centre in the W.C. O’Neill Arena Complex. It occupies more than 10,000 square feet of what was unused space. I believe primary health care should be delivered at the community level. The wellness centre is owned by the taxpayer of Saint Andrews and administered by the town. To complete the plan, we still need a dental service and fitness centre operator, which will be a priority, along with bringing in visiting specialists to augment the care of our two family physicians. A number of wellness programs are about to be launched, including dementia awareness, stroke navigation and aging in place, to keep seniors longer in their own home.

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

There are two. The provincial government has released a Green Paper on Local Governance Reform which could, if implemented, change the face of local government. We must ensure that after many years of inattention, the provincial government makes good on this initiative. It must be done right. Local government reform starts in Fredericton by increasing the mandate and funding for local governments. More urgent, but longer-term, is meeting the housing crisis. The first step is knowing what we need. The Regional Service Commission has produced a study of Southwest N.B. Municipalities. The Saint Andrews Age Friendly Community Committee has completed a survey and the results will be released shortly. Creating housing where none now exists is a longer process. We must look at all the options and get started now even if we have to be builders ourselves.