Why you?

City coun­cil hope­fuls say why they are run­ning and what they will bring to the ta­ble

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY GARY KEAN THE WESTERN STAR gkean@thewest­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

City coun­cil hope­fuls say why they are run­ning and what they will bring to the ta­ble.

There are 20 peo­ple on the bal­lot for this year’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion in Cor­ner Brook.

On Sept. 26, the city’s res­i­dents will choose ei­ther in­cum­bent Charles Pen­der or chal­lenger Jim Par­sons to serve as mayor for the next four years, and will se­lect six names from a field of 18 vy­ing for the city coun­cilor po­si­tions.

The Western Star con­tacted all of them to ask a few ques­tions that could help vot­ers make their choices.

We asked all 20 why they are run­ning for city coun­cil and what they will bring to the coun­cil ta­ble.

We asked the two may­oral can­di­dates their thoughts on what is the most im­por­tant as­pect of lead­ing coun­cil and the city’s fu­ture di­rec­tion.

JIM PAR­SONS

Age: 40 Oc­cu­pa­tion: busi­ness con­sul­tant, busi­ness owner

Years lived in Cor­ner

Brook: en­tire life, ex­cept for nine years at­tend­ing school and liv­ing in St. John’s

On run­ning:

The Cor­ner Brook na­tive and Har­vard Univer­sity grad­u­ate be­lieves the city is a great place to live and wants it be even bet­ter for his kids when they grow up. As a busi­ness con­sul­tant for nearly 20 years and as a small busi­ness owner and chair of the Down­town Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, he is fa­mil­iar with the con­cerns of the busi­ness com­mu­nity and feels he can bring a new ap­proach to man­age­ment and lead­er­ship at city hall.

On lead­er­ship:

Par­sons be­lieves lead­er­ship en­tails gen­uine col­lab­o­ra­tion and ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween city hall and ev­ery­one it deals with, in­clud­ing com­mu­nity groups, churches, busi­nesses, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and other lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

“That’s the key to our suc­cess: form­ing these re­la­tion­ships, be­ing the glue of the com­mu­nity and bring­ing peo­ple in­side the tent, in­stead of work­ing in si­los and do­ing things with­out con­sul­ta­tion,” he said.

CHARLES PEN­DER

Age: 54 Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired ed­u­ca­tor

Years lived in Cor­ner

Brook: en­tire life, ex­cept for four years at­tend­ing univer­sity and work­ing in Baie Verte

On run­ning

A vet­eran of city coun­cil for most of the past 14 years, Pen­der be­lieves his wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge of how the city op­er­ates and in­ter­acts with other lev­els of gov­ern­ment and fund­ing agen­cies is in­valu­able, and he still has a lot he can con­trib­ute. The Cor­ner Brook na­tive said he wants to con­tinue giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity as best he can.

On lead­er­ship

Pen­der prides him­self on be­ing ac­ces­si­ble, ac­count­able and re­li­able. He said it is not easy to lead a team of seven dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties who each see var­i­ous is­sues their own way. He said the fo­cus of all of the dis­cus­sion, de­bate and di­a­logue of coun­cil has to be on the best in­ter­est of res­i­dents and meet­ing the needs of res­i­dents.

“They should al­ways be at the front of your mind, first and fore­most, when­ever you’re mak­ing a de­ci­sion,” he said.

KA­T­RINA BASHA

Age: 59 Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired speech lan­guage pathol­o­gist

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life, ex­cept to at­tend univer­sity

Basha has al­ways had a keen in­ter­est in pol­i­tics and said she has al­ways made an ef­fort to boast about her home­town when­ever she has trav­elled. She would like noth­ing more than to serve in a ca­pac­ity to help Cor­ner Brook grow and pros­per. She said it’s time to stop dwelling on neg­a­tives like the de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion and un­em­ploy­ment rates, and fo­cus on the pos­i­tive po­ten­tial for eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment in the city.

“I’m com­mit­ted to this,” she said. “I’ve been com­mit­ted to any­thing I’ve ever tack­led in life.”

LENNY BENOIT

Age: 51 Oc­cu­pa­tion: ra­dio broad­caster

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: 31 years Af­ter mak­ing a name for him­self through his work as a ra­dio per­son­al­ity and a com­mu­nity vol­un­teer, Benoit was en­cour­aged to run for coun­cil by his fam­ily, friends and the groups he has worked with. He wants to help form the city’s next mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment so he can bring their per­spec­tive to the coun­cil ta­ble.

“I think I could be a com­mu­nity voice on coun­cil more so than have a po­lit­i­cal view be­cause I don’t con­sider my­self a politi­cian,” he said.

PRISCILLA BOUTCHER

Age: would not dis­close Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life

Boutcher is a long­time for­mer city coun­cil­lor and one-time mayor who wants an­other crack at be­ing part of the lead­er­ship at city hall. She said she has the time, the ded­i­ca­tion, in­ter­est, ea­ger­ness and abil­ity to do it again, and be­lieves she would make a good com­ple­ment to a new coun­cil.

“I’m all for young and new peo­ple run­ning and would like to be part of the team to help them with the knowl­edge I’ve gained form my past ex­pe­ri­ences be­ing on coun­cil,” she said.

KYLE BROOK­INGS

Age: 25 Oc­cu­pa­tion: bank cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: four

Brook­ings be­lieves an in­jec­tion of youth is what is needed on city coun­cil. He said he has some new ideas to try to make Cor­ner Brook more busi­ness friendly and wants to try his hand at both at­tract­ing younger peo­ple to Cor­ner Brook and re­tain­ing more of the younger gen­er­a­tion al­ready here.

“I would be the kind of coun­cil­lor we haven’t seen be­fore,” he said. “I would be a choice that would be dif­fer­ent be­cause we haven’t seen any­body my age on coun­cil, at least not in re­cent his­tory.”

LEO BRUCE

Age: 61 Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired fi­nan­cial ad­viser

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life

A vet­eran of two pre­vi­ous terms on coun­cil, Bruce is ea­ger to bring his voice back to the coun­cil cham­bers af­ter a four-year ab­sence. He said he thor­oughly en­joyed his time on coun­cil and feels he still has a lot to con­trib­ute. He has con­cerns about how the out­go­ing coun­cil has not been as vo­cal as he would have liked.

“With the Beothuk En­ergy project, for in­stance, here’s a chance to pos­si­bly bring 600 good-pay­ing jobs and we haven’t heard a thing from any­one on coun­cil,” he said. “It blows my mind. I want to be the voice to make sure this thing comes to fruition.”

TONY BUCKLE

Age: 60 Oc­cu­pa­tion: semi-re­tired con­struc­tion con­trac­tor

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life

In­cum­bent coun­cil­lor Buckle said he and coun­cil have done a lot in the last four years and prom­ises he will bring his brand of hon­esty, hard work, com­mon sense and ded­i­ca­tion to the cit­i­zens of Cor­ner Brook again if re-elected. While he said the out­go­ing coun­cil has done a lot of work, there is more to be done.

“We have to bring in new ideas,” he said. “We have to look out­side the box all the time and we haven’t been do­ing that.”

JOSH CAREY

Age: 56 Oc­cu­pa­tion: eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer with pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life

Carey be­lieves Cor­ner Brook has a strong, bright fu­ture and that he has the skills to help coun­cil keep the city on the right path. He said his fo­cus will be on em­ploy­ment and busi­ness growth and de­vel­op­ing a strat­egy that will in­clude a fo­cus on tourism, qual­ity of life, in­fra­struc­ture and re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

“I have made Cor­ner Brook my home and I be­lieve I have to con­trib­ute back to the com­mu­nity to help it grow and be strong,” he said.

LINDA CHAISSON

Age: 62 Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired ed­u­ca­tor

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: 35 years

Af­ter two terms as a coun­cil­lor, Chaisson feels she still has lots to of­fer res­i­dents. In ad­di­tion to con­tin­u­ing to keep an eye on the city be­ing fis­cally re­spon­si­ble, she wants to turn her at­ten­tion to mak­ing life bet­ter for those with dis­abil­i­ties and is sug­gest­ing a new in­clu­siv­ity com­mit­tee of coun­cil be formed. An­other plat­form of hers is hav­ing all is­sues dealt with at pub­lic meet­ings, with the ex­cep­tion of those where per­sonal pri­vacy may be breached.

“I be­lieve peo­ple should be able to see how and why we vote the way we do and the rea­sons why we do cer­tain things.”

KEITH CORMIER

Age: 66 Oc­cu­pa­tion: hu­man re­la­tions coach

Years lived in Cor­ner

Brook: en­tire life, ex­cept for liv­ing away be­tween 1973 and 1995

Also an in­cum­bent, Cormier be­lieves his abil­ity to lis­ten to both the tax­pay­ers and city staff to fig­ure out an­swers to var­i­ous is­sues is one of his key strengths. He said coun­cil has done a lot of work re­struc­tur­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and putting mech­a­nisms in place to pro­vide a bet­ter level of ser­vice to res­i­dents.

“I would like to see that fine tuned even more with all the chal­lenges we have in the next four years, which are sig­nif­i­cant.”

PAMELA GILL

Age: 47

Oc­cu­pa­tion: com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: since 1994

When she first moved to Cor­ner Brook 23 years ago, Gill didn’t re­al­ize it would changed her life so much, but it has.

“I love Cor­ner Brook and feel it has given me what I have and now I feel like I have to give back,” she said of why she’s run­ning for coun­cil.

She feels, as the mother of a school-age child and some­one who works at a univer­sity, she is well con­nected to the younger peo­ple and fam­i­lies Cor­ner Brook needs to en­tice to stay.

She would also like to form a com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mit­tee of coun­cil that would look at both the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions the city has with its staff and its con­stituents.

VAUGHN GRANTER

Age: 52 Oc­cu­pa­tion: ed­u­ca­tor, for­mer MHA

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: 30 years

Af­ter three decades as a teacher, in­ter­rupted only by five years in pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics, Granter says the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence he has ac­quired in deal­ing with fam­i­lies and the pub­lic would be a great fit for a set­ting as im­por­tant as sit­ting around the city coun­cil ta­ble. That’s why he wants to con­trib­ute his time and en­ergy as a city coun­cil­lor.

“The skills I’ve ac­quired in gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially at the cabi­net ta­ble, are a unique as­set that would be well used on coun­cil when sit­ting down with gov­ern­ment and our lo­cal MHAs,” said the for­mer pro­vin­cial fish­eries min­is­ter.

BILL GRIF­FIN

Age: 62 Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired deputy fire chief

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life

Af­ter punch­ing more than three decades with the Cor­ner Brook Fire De­part­ment, many of them in a man­age­ment role, Grif­fin said he knows a lot about how the city runs and what goes on. Now that he has the time and en­ergy to try to im­prove the oper­a­tion, he would like to have a shot to do so. His for­mer job in­volved at­tend­ing city coun­cil meet­ings and also deal­ing with var­i­ous de­vel­op­ers and busi­ness­peo­ple.

“I’m fa­mil­iar with the strug­gles they’re hav­ing and I think I have a leg up on what to ex­pect as a coun­cil­lor, and that can be an ad­van­tage for me,” he said.

MAU­REEN MENNIE

Age: 77 Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired re­search li­brar­ian

Years lived in Cor­ner

Brook: 19761990 and since 2010

Mennie said she in­tends to bring her ears and her voice to the city coun­cil ta­ble. She feels the abil­ity to lis­ten and the will to make one’s opin­ion heard has been lack­ing at city hall in re­cent years.

“All coun­cil­lors should be out there and speak­ing in the com­mu­nity,” she said. “Your need to speak in pub­lic does not stop at the coun­cil cham­ber.”

While she knows the busi­ness of be­ing on city coun­cil is se­ri­ous, she promised, when it’s ap­pro­pri­ate, to in­ject her per­sonal sense of hu­mour into the job if elected.

DEVON PARDY

Age: 22 Oc­cu­pa­tion: civil en­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­ogy stu­dent

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life

The youngest of all the city coun­cil can­di­dates, Pardy be­lieves his youth­ful­ness would be a breath of fresh air in the coun­cil cham­bers. He said he would re­ally like to see some big changes at city hall and thinks he could bring a lot of youth­ful en­ergy and a novel per­spec­tive to the mind­set at city hall.

“I be­lieve I can make the right de­ci­sions to make the right votes peo­ple want,” he said.

BRIAN SPARKES

Age: 52

Oc­cu­pa­tion: small busi­ness owner

Years lived in Cor­ner

Brook: since the age of three years old Sparkes had not thought about throw­ing his hat in the po­lit­i­cal ring un­til he was en­cour­aged to do so by his fam­ily. Af­ter the push, he de­cided there was no harm in at least giv­ing it a try. He said he has al­ways been out­spo­ken on is­sues in the past and that would be what vot­ers can ex­pect of him on coun­cil.

“When I see an is­sue I’m pas­sion­ate about, I’m not afraid to ex­press my opin­ion, be out­spo­ken about it and to push for it,” he said. “That would prob­a­bly be my strong­est suit and there are a few things around the city I would like to see changed.”

BERND STAEBEN

Age: would not dis­close

Oc­cu­pa­tion: re­tired phar­ma­cist

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: since 1951

The in­cum­bent deputy mayor of Cor­ner Brook has spent his en­tire life in com­mu­nity ser­vice both pro­fes­sion­ally and as an avid vol­un­teer. He said do­ing these things, in­clud­ing serv­ing on city coun­cil, keeps him vi­brant and he would like to keep that go­ing while con­tribut­ing to the city’s progress.

“I bring my strong back­ground in fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion and my com­mon sense busi­ness skills help make for some good de­ci­sion mak­ing,” he said.

TOM STE­WART

Age: 49

Oc­cu­pa­tion: ed­u­ca­tor

Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: since 1998

Ste­wart be­lieves he can bring his ex­pe­ri­ence of ed­u­cat­ing and coach­ing sports for the past 20 years to the coun­cil cham­bers and make it an as­set for the new coun­cil. He be­lieves his ex­per­tise could help Cor­ner Brook host more events that would, in turn, stim­u­late the econ­omy and the tourism in­dus­try.

“I think there is a great ben­e­fit am­a­teur sport can pro­vide to the city and I feel I can di­rectly help out there,” he said.

DONNA WHEELER

Age: 47

Oc­cu­pa­tion: reg­is­tered nurse, re­gional man­ager of health in­for­ma­tion Years lived in Cor­ner Brook: en­tire life, ex­cept for two years in Al­berta

Af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful bid to be mayor of Cor­ner Brook four years ago, the for­mer Donna Fran­cis is still keenly in­ter­ested in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics and is ea­ger to re­turn to city coun­cil. She feels the term she pre­vi­ously did spend on coun­cil is a big as­set

“I am in­ter­ested in be­ing in­cluded in the de­ci­sions at city hall and I think the four years on coun­cil proved I can be a voice of the com­mu­nity,” she said.

Par­sons

Basha

Boutcher

Brook­ings

Carey

Chaisson

Granter

Buckle

Gill

Mennie

Pardy

Bruce

Grif­fin

Pen­der

Benoit

Cormier

Staeben

Wheeler

Ste­wart

Sparkes

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