New era set to be­gin at Char­lot­te­town city hall

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL - Andy Walker Andy Walker is an Is­land-based writer and com­men­ta­tor. His col­umn ap­pears ev­ery other week in the Jour­nal Pi­o­neer.

It took three tries, but Philip Brown is now pre­par­ing to take over as the mayor of the cap­i­tal city.

The teacher and for­mer coun­cil­lor lost twice to out­go­ing mayor Clif­ford Lee be­fore tast­ing vic­tory on Mon­day night. With Lee de­part­ing the mu­nic­i­pal scene, Brown pre­vailed over four other challengers with his clos­est ri­val be­ing Kim Devine.

A for­mer coun­cil­lor her­self, Devine is also his sis­ter-in-law and works as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­vi­sor for Philip’s brother - Com­mu­ni­ties, Land and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Richard Brown.

Brown is sig­nal­ing he plans a new ap­proach to job than his pre­de­ces­sor. While Lee jug­gled his may­oral du­ties with a full-time job, Brown plans to de­vote his full at­ten­tion to city hall.

He took a leave of ab­sence from the class­room to cam­paign and is talk­ing to the Pub­lic Schools Branch about his fu­ture. Brown said he may do some part-time teach­ing after he gets his sea legs at city hall but that re­mains to be seen.

In sev­eral me­dia in­ter­views, Brown has de­scribed his new role as a “leader among lead­ers.” Brown said he con­sid­ers all 10 coun­cil­lors lead­ers in their wards and on the com­mit­tees on which they serve. He con­sid­ers his role to be a con­sen­sus builder, al­though he con­cedes there will be times when coun­cil­lors will have to agree to dis­agree and move on.

He is also fol­low­ing the lead of out­go­ing Sum­mer­side Mayor Bill Mar­tin in set­ting a limit to his time in of­fice. Mar­tin hon­oured his pledge to only run for one term and Brown said if he wins in 2021, that will be his last cam­paign.

Ri­val can­di­dates Ce­cil Vil­lard ac­cused him of plan­ning to fire Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tive Of­fi­cer Peter Kelly if he won the vote. The for­mer Hal­i­fax mayor has had a con­tro­ver­sial ten­ure as the cap­i­tal’s top civil ser­vant, as he took the job un­der the cloud of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­gard­ing a land sale at his for­mer job as CEO in West­lock County, Al­berta. An in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion said Kelly ap­proved the sale with­out a pa­per trail from coun­cil, but the mu­nic­i­pal­ity did not pur­sue any le­gal ac­tion.

Brown de­nied he planned to have Kelly fired, say­ing he sim­ply called for a re­view of all gov­ern­ment ser­vices with a view to im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency. He main­tains that is sim­ply “due dili­gence” on the part of the new coun­cil.

The mayor-elect said af­ford­able hous­ing will be the ma­jor pri­or­ity for his ad­min­is­tra­tion. That will likely mean work­ing closely with his pre­de­ces­sor, who has ac­cepted a job as the prov­ince’s af­ford­able hous­ing czar. Brown noted he heard the is­sue time and again at the door, not­ing the con­cerns spanned sev­eral age groups.

He is not view­ing the fact his brother is a se­nior cabi­net min­is­ter to be a ma­jor fac­tor in his deal­ings with the prov­ince. Re­gard­less of which party is in power, there has been a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Prov­ince House and city hall and he doesn’t ex­pect that will change much. That be­ing said, he ad­mit­ted per­cep­tion is ev­ery­thing in pol­i­tics and if it does look like is a prob­lem, one of them will step back.

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