Challenges ahead for new councils

Lawrence Powell
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Editorial from The Annapolis County Spectator

Taxpayers in Annapolis County, Annapolis Royal, and Bridgetown have spoken and there has been a shake-up of sorts in all three municipalities. Whether voters made the right choices in Saturday’s municipal elections remains to be seen, but two things are certain – there won’t be another chance for four years and there is a lot of work to be done.

Annapolis Royal is still reeling from a drastic drop in revenue from the reduced revenue provided from Nova Scotia Power. The light at the end of the tunnel is a couple of years away and the town has done a number of things to reduce spending. New mayor Michael Tompkins is going to have to be tough if he hopes to reduce spending and taxes. Spending appears to be down to the bone already – but commercial and residential development may hold some hope. That’s where the revenue comes from and Annapolis Royal is still a mecca for come-from-aways. The new council has to create an atmosphere for growth and at the same time retain that idyllic charm the town is famous for.

In Bridgetown, it’s a whole other ball game. Catching up after years of financial chaos is the name of that game. And it can be done, given the spirit of a town that refuses to knuckle under to money woes and economic recession. But spirit alone won’t be enough. Leadership is key and new mayor Horace Hurlburt will no doubt have to huddle with his new team to chart a course that gets the town out from under as much as $900,000 of debt.

Fortunately, Hurlburt has three former councillors to help out and a fresh face to add new insight. And for those who might suggest that all three of those former councillors resigned in mid-mandate, well that may just speak to the principles they hold for representing their constituents. All three are able and may be key to the transition.

In the county, three new faces will appear around the council table. And all three appear to have the smarts and the proper motivation to serve well. There are numerous challenges ahead for this team – jobs and the economy being top of the heap.

Residents are also hopeful that this new county crew will debate and discuss as individuals but act as one. There is no room for pettiness or personal agendas, and it is safe to say taxpayers will not be putting up with anything less than the highest levels of decorum. This council will be watched closely.

In all, voter turnout appeared to be higher than normal and the public seemed to be more involved in the 2012 vote than in some previous elections. That’s a good sign.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Annapolis Royal, Annapolis County, Bridgetown

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  • Lesley Meisner
    November 03, 2012 - 09:01

    We have just had our municipal elections with their usual low voter turnout. Annapolis County Council represents all of Annapolis County, yet if a councilor goes unchallenged, we don't get to vote every four years on council as a whole. I haven't read the municipal act, so I trust each councilor at least has to live in their district. It's impossible to know a district unless you are residing in it. We didn't get to vote this year. Our councilor was not challenged There were three areas in our municipality that the councilor was "acclaimed". Due to these acclamations, the residents of three areas had no chance to voice their opinion through the ballot. I have very strong opinions about my area. I think all areas of the municipality should be voting on our council and ALL it's councilors. They supposedly are non-partisan and represent all of us. If not getting a vote this time out, does that mean we get a pass on taxation for the next four years? I think not. As a citizen of the Municipality, I want my say every four years on all councilors. The only exception to that should be in the case of a councilor stepping down during his/her term. The cost would be too prohibitive for the residents of this Municipality. It's time to change the Municipal Elections Act to reflect the opinions and votes of all residents and it's up to the residents to study each candidate from every district and get out and vote for each district. Perhaps if council made these changes to the act, and also made themselves more open to all residents of the municipality during your term, you might get a fair turnout at the polls. I feel the elections act as it stands now denies me my right to put my x's by those who I feel would benefit Annapolis County in total.