Bol­ster­ing the bal­lot

Cam­paign con­tin­ues to at­tract more can­di­dates for Septem­ber mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions

The Compass - - NEWS - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY SPE­CIAL TO TC ME­DIA

At­ten­dees at Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador’s re­cent sym­po­sium in Gan­der heard first-hand from sev­eral coun­cil­lors how serv­ing on mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment has en­riched their lives.

Maisie Clark has been mayor of the Town of Camp­bell­ton since 2001. She’s hop­ing to be re-elected.

“I got in­volved be­cause I saw that there were many things the town needed. We were hav­ing trou­ble fi­nan­cially and I knew I had the time and felt I could make a dif­fer­ence,” Clark said dur­ing a re­cent tele­phone in­ter­view.

Clark says like men in other ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, many of those liv­ing in Camp­bell­ton have had to leave the prov­ince to find work. It’s time for women to step up and do their part, she says.

“If we want our town to be sus­tain­able and sur­vive we have to get in­volved. No­body else is go­ing to do it for us. Even if you are work­ing, you can find the time. If ev­ery­body did a lit­tle bit, no­body would have to do a lot of work.”

Part of a team

Women run house­holds and of­ten look af­ter the fam­ily’s bud­get, Clark says. It’s no dif­fer­ent when you are in charge of a mu­nic­i­pal bud­get, she says.

“You only have so much money and if you over­spend you are in trou­ble. But you’re not alone. You have your coun­cil­lors and you make your de­ci­sions to­gether. I just love it.”

Amy Coady-Davis is serv­ing her first term as a coun­cil­lor with the Town of Grand Falls-Wind­sor. She’ll also ask vot­ers to sup­port her again in Septem­ber.

“My fa­ther ( Jim Coady) was in me­dia for 35 years. So I had a real in­ter­est in pol­i­tics be­cause I used to fol­low it through the me­dia. And when my hus­band and I de­cided to make Grand Falls- Wind­sor our home and raise our chil­dren here, I de­cided I wanted to serve on coun­cil.”

Coady-Davis put her name on the bal­lot in the Jan­uary 2008 by­elec­tion. She was de­feated. She put her name for­ward again in an­other by­elec­tion just months later.

“I im­proved my vote count but still wasn’t the suc­cess­ful can­di­date.”

As the old say­ing goes — the third time was a charm for Coad­yDavis. She was elected in the gen­eral elec­tion in Septem­ber 2009.

The mother of three young chil­dren, Coady-Davis works for the provin­cial govern­ment. It’s a sea­sonal job, she says, and when not work­ing for the prov­ince takes a job with the Col­lege of the North At­lantic.

Like all coun­cil­lors in Grand Falls-Wind­sor, Coady-Davis re­ceives a monthly stipend for her work on coun­cil. While serv­ing on mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment is time con­sum­ing, she says, it’s also very re­ward­ing.

“It’s a whole lot more than I could have ever imag­ined. I went in with a bunch of ideas think­ing I was go­ing to go in and would fix ev­ery­thing. But I sat around the ta­ble at the first meet­ing and re­al­ized I didn’t have a clue what it takes to run a mu­nic­i­pal­ity.”

Since that first meet­ing she’s lis­tened and learned and is well­versed on how a mu­nic­i­pal­ity op­er­ates. She’s ready to help oth­ers un­der­stand the po­lit­i­cal ropes.

“It’s so grat­i­fy­ing and so in­ter­est­ing to see the fruits of your labour. Peo­ple who are think­ing about run­ning should talk to as many peo­ple as they can to get an idea of ex­actly what’s in­volved … make the de­ci­sion soon, don’t wait till the last minute to put your name on a bal­lot.”

Seek­ing fe­males, youth

Bauline Mayor Chris Dredge, Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Kevin O’Brien and MNL pres­i­dent Churence Rogers also par­tic­i­pated

Amy Coady-Davis is a coun­cil­lor with the Town of Grand Falls-Wind­sor.

in the “Make Your Mark” panel dis­cus­sion.

O’Brien’s depart­ment co-or­di­nated the dis­cus­sions as part of its “Make Your Mark” cam­paign that will run dur­ing Mu­nic­i­pal Aware­ness Week (May 27-31).

The cam­paign en­cour­ages peo­ple — par­tic­u­larly women and youth — to run in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal gen­eral elec­tion.

Rogers, who is mayor of the Town of Cen­tre­ville-Ware­hamTrin­ity, says the panel dis­cus­sions and the en­tire sym­po­sium which ran from May 9-11 were a “huge suc­cess.”

More money from feds and prov­ince

Now that both the provin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments have in­vested more money into mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, Rogers says peo­ple should feel bet­ter about run­ning for coun­cil.

Prior to both the provin­cial and fed­eral bud­get an­nounce­ments, Rogers said, he had “ma­jor con­cerns” about how both lev­els of govern­ment would fi­nan­cially treat mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“If we didn’t get sup­ports from the feds and from the prov­ince, we were go­ing to see an coun­cil­lors …” he said.

While more needs to be done, he says, gov­ern­ments have lis­tened.

In its lat­est bud­get, the fed­eral govern­ment in­dexed the gas tax trans­fer. The first in­dex­ing of a mu­nic­i­pal trans­fer will add $9 bil­lion to the per­ma­nent gas tax fund over 20 years.

Rogers says the provin­cial govern­ment has also put its sup­port be­hind mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties by im­ple­ment­ing a new Mu­nic­i­pal Op­er­at­ing Grants For­mula.

“There won’t be a re­duc­tion in any of the Mu­nic­i­pal Op­er­at­ing Grants, which is some­thing we’ve asked for and they de­liv­ered on.”

Govern­ment will main­tain Mu­nic­i­pal Op­er­at­ing Grants at ex­ist­ing fund­ing lev­els for com­mu­ni­ties un­der 11,000 res­i­dents for the re­main­der of 2013 and have in­vested $22 mil­lion to sup­port a new Mu­nic­i­pal Op­er­at­ing Grant for­mula for com­mu­ni­ties un­der 11,000 res­i­dents, ef­fec­tive Jan­uary 1, 2014.

The for­mula en­sures that no mu­nic­i­pal­ity will re­ceive less fund­ing than their cur­rent level, and most will see an in­crease.

Govern­ment has also com­mit-

ex­o­dus of ted $25 mil­lion to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of a new Cap­i­tal Works Pro­gram for the seven mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince with pop­u­la­tions greater than 11,000 which will no longer re­ceive Mu­nic­i­pal Op­er­at­ing Grants (St. John’s, Con­cep­tion Bay South, Mount Pearl, Par­adise, Cor­ner Brook, Gan­der, and Grand Fall­sWind­sor).

The provin­cial govern­ment has also com­mit­ted to a full dis­cus­sion on a new fis­cal frame­work for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and “We’re ex­tremely pleased with that com­mit­ment.”

Once that’s done, he says, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be taken care of for the next cou­ple of decades.

Rogers says those at­tend­ing the sym­po­sium went home with a “re­newed sense of op­ti­mism” for the fu­ture of mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics. He’s con­fi­dent that en­thu­si­asm will show when it’s time to put names on bal­lots.

“I think you are go­ing to see more and more peo­ple who were in­tend­ing not to run to stay on and run again. And hope­fully, we’ll bring some new blood in.”

danette@nl.rogers.com

Photo by Krista Car­roll/tc Me­dia

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