Municipal election 2021 – Meet the mayoral candidates for St. George

ST. GEORGE – Three candidates.

Faith Avery (incumbent)

Why are you running for mayor?

For nine years I have worked and continue to work tirelessly and hard for our community, I have proudly represented our town at events, activities, and meetings. St. George is my passion and pride.

I am a very resourceful person, possessing strong organizational and interpersonal skills. I have utilized these attributes to maximize my input for the town. Having the knowledge of where the town has been and is at present gives me a unique perspective on its opportunities for growth. Council needs to work as a unit for the betterment of the town and I believe I have showed in the past nine years my dedication and ability to work with many.

In my one-and-one-half years as acting mayor, I only had three months of normal atmosphere. I was able to take the town through a pandemic time with a surplus in the budget coming into the next year. Day-to-day operations of the town were not impacted. Projects were completed, and many new ones started or applied for. We have been meeting in a public space where many municipalities are still using zoom for meetings. The mayor has to be the glue of the municipality, holding everything together.

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

As a member of council, I have always remained focused on what we can do for the citizens and the business community alike. As a service community it is imperative that we remain committed to providing the atmosphere and environment to not only maintain our present business infrastructure but encourage development, thus ensuring both business and population growth. Our town needs urgent attention to the housing problem here as well as finishing the infrastructure.

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

I would like to see more for tourism, beautification and recreation of our town, to be a town that is remembered for it’s beauty and friendliness. I would like to further enhance our leisure activities, we need to continue to develop walking trails and make more areas accessible for seniors and those living with disabilities. To accomplish this the council must work hand in hand with the citizens, businesses, churches, and schools. The council is well positioned to act as a catalyst to engage these stakeholders. This type of synergy would also provide major spin-off initiatives for our youth and developments in tourism. Working together there is so much we can accomplish.

We also need to develop an achievable, comprehensive strategic plan for the town, with input from all community stakeholders and citizens, ensure the plan is communicated clearly to all, and remain open for feedback throughout its implementation.

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

We need to continue improving our housing/rental needs as well as bringing businesses to our town. We need to attract new residents to our beautiful town. The geographical location of St. George makes it an ideal place to live and to visit for leisure activities. As a place to live we must focus on communicating all that the town has to offer, from its 40 minute drive from Saint John and Calais, Maine, to its safe and beautiful living environment.

Another challenge I would like to see accomplished is more health services for our area. By this I don’t only mean physical health but also mental health. We have a lack of support and access for those in crisis who needs help. If we have more to offer these professionals they will come settle here and open practices here.

Strong leadership is vital for growth of our community and I am excited to work as a team with Council, staff and community volunteers. I feel it is the collective passion of the many people who work to make St. George an amazing place to call home. A leader’s job is not to make every decision, but instead to draw on the experiences and ideas of those they represent. I love this town and I truly believe in its future.

John Detorakis

Why are you running for mayor?

Like many others, I often complain about the lack of a vision for the future of this town, and the absence of any long-term municipal plan for getting the right kind of growth. In some cases, I feel St. George has been moving backward. Just three years ago there were three family physicians practicing in town. Now there is one. I find St. George politics are filled with pettiness. Council still holds meetings closed to the public. I find this practice offensive to the public interest. Town residents expect more consultation and more thoughtful planning on the long-term goals of this town. I am running for mayor to bring to the changes many St. George residents demand.

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

As mayor, my commitment is to have the council of St. George pursue five priorities:

1. Be a strong voice for the community when the post-COVID challenges come knocking on our door. The impact of COVID on our provincial economy is not fully understood. There will be some tough days ahead as a result of the strain this pandemic put on our provincial economy. There are already consultation processes started that call for reform in local governance and health care. History has shown in tough times consultation for reform is often the facade of cuts to come. The mayor must be a strong voice to speak the concerns of our community when the cuts come.

2. Co-operate more with our other municipalities in Charlotte County: Cooperation does not only mean sharing equipment and services to reduce operating costs. Cooperation also means comparing practices between municipalities about the way we are running our towns. Improvements in operation start when we are open to benchmark our municipal operations against how other municipalities of comparable size are running their affairs. Are there any sweet deals between our town and certain suppliers? Are we spending too much on certain things? Are we investing too little on other things that are important? Only comparing notes and benchmarking with the municipalities of St. Stephen and Saint Andrews can give us these answers. And of course, the other municipalities will also benefit by cooperating in this benchmark exercise.

3. Leverage town opportunities that align with the interests of our seafood industry. The town must actively identify and promote opportunities for which the seafood industry has a direct economic interest to support.

4. Commit the town to a long-term plan for achieving a balanced population growth. This is the biggest challenge we face if we are to survive as a healthy rural community.

5. Promote volunteerism and community spirit: St. George has a large high school population where students look for references to facilitate their post-secondary education. Volunteering programs can motivate our students to earn character references and recommendations for future employment and education pursuits. Our seafood industry will have a direct benefit from such a town initiative. Aquaculture scholarships for student volunteers will draw more students forward for volunteer assignments, but also will serve the industry by building early relationships with future employees to fuel industry growth.

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

Our biggest challenge is the imbalance between town growth and growth of the seafood industry. Our seafood industry is healthy and growing fast, while St George remains stagnant or shrinking. There are not enough local workers to fuel industry growth. Low-paid foreign workers are being brought into our community, and many more will follow to fuel industry growth. Unless the town succeeds in achieving balanced growth and attracting Canadian retirees and professionals from big cities, the influx of low-paid foreign workers will lead to segregated communities and work camps. It will change the nature of St. George from a small rural town to something else. Bringing 200 low-paid foreign worker families in St. George, that has only 600 existing families, can lead to segregated communities and to social problems. St. George has an obligation to work with the province to achieve balanced population growth, by tapping into the pool of big city retirees and active professionals who are now moving to small rural towns.

Sharon Tucker

Why are you running for mayor?

St. George is my home. I have the required experience and leadership abilities for the position. I am excited about the opportunity to work with council, the community, our business and government partners, promoting our community as a great place to live, work, and visit.

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

Short term; tourism. As the COVID-19 guidelines begin to change we are in an ideal position to benefit from the many things St. George has to offer. Long term; Housing, immigration, and recreation.

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

COVID-19 has shown us the significant impact of isolation on all ages. We take pride in identifying as “A Community Strong”. It is time for us to formalize this by focusing on community engagement, ensuring that all age groups are supported. Committees tend to be composed of only one specific age group; let’s think out of the box and encourage residents of all ages to bring their ideas. Working together we can accomplish much.

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

The size of our town poses a challenge as our funding is based upon our population. We need to focus on creative ways to promote the growth. Growth in businesses as well as housing. An economic development plan could help us with this.