GUYSBOROUGH: A retired educator, a business owner, a realtor, and the marketing coordinator at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University have all declared their interest for the vacant council seat in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough.

Elaine Durling, who is a retired educator of 32-years and has previous council experience, served a four-year term as a councillor and sat as deputy mayor for one of those years in the Town of Mulgrave. She was also a member of the Eastern Counties Regional Library Board for six years serving as a councillor, treasurer and provincial appointee.

“District 4 has been near and dear to me and a part of my life since I was a child; spending summers with my grandparents and then receiving my first teaching assignment in the community of Dover,” she said in an emailed statement. “Although I finished my teaching career in another area of the SRSB, Half Island Cove was where I was as soon as school was out. I am very happy to say that last year it once again became our full time residence.”

Durling said she has always had an interest in local politics but unfortunately, she was unable to re-offer as councillor while in Mulgrave; with this opportunity presenting itself, she thought it was the perfect time to offer candidacy. 

“My main campaign promise is my time. District 4 is a very large geographical riding and giving a voice to all of its constituents is crucial.  If elected, I would schedule specific days of the month to meet in each of the areas of the riding,” she said. “I feel this plan would allow me to keep an open relationship with my constituents and better represent their concerns.”

Some of the concerns that have been brought to her attention include; snow removal, street lighting and environmental sea erosion – all of which she’s willing to take to the table to determine a viable solution.

After receiving his diploma in business management, for the past 23-years, Dave Hanhams has been the owner of Hanhams Gas & Convenience in Half Island Cove. Receiving his diploma in power engineering in 2010, he’s since been employed with Nova Scotia Power since 2012.

The 47-year-old, who has been involved with District 4 for the past 38-years, said he has a strong connection with the people in the area and he wants to see the area thrive in the years ahead.

“I enjoy meeting and talking with the people and also helping people out,” Hanhams said. “My platform objectives are to keep people informed and involved in the decision making process.”

Lack of jobs in the area, physician shortage, nurses shortage, out migration, housing for the aging population and declining tourism in the area are all concerns of his.

“I believe our number one priority should be to create employment in the area. We need to stop the out migration and bring people back to the area to work and raise their families,” Hanhams said. “I believe I have a strong connection with the people and understand the issues and concerns of our area first hand as a small business owner trying to succeed in the area.”

Tino Winter came to the district about 25-years ago, to live, work and make a living. He’s a self-employed contractor and for the last decade has been working actively as a realtor with Del Mar Realty Inc.

Winter has been an active volunteer in the community and for the past 15-years has sat on the emergency measures office table within the municipality.

“I represent the fire services, meaning that I’m working with council and staff on a fairly regular basis.”

In addition, Winter has served as president of the local harbour authority in White Head, is a more active member of the community association in White Head, and was the assistant search director for the Strait Area Ground Search and Rescue.

“I’ve always been interested in local politics, being a councillor representing for the district I make a living in, is a good way to do that.”

He hasn’t really developed a platform as he said he’s not really in the know of what’s coming down the pipeline but is aware of the obvious issue of a dwindling population and facing challenges in terms of taxes coming in.

“We need to come up with some solutions to counteract that,” he said. “Coming from my self-employed lifestyle, I can certainly accommodate the requirement and the need for time to act on behalf of the constituents.”

Jenny MacDonald, a resident of Dorts Cove hopes to fill the vacant council seat with a fresh perspective.

Having a diploma in music arts and business from the Nova Scotia Community College, the 32-year-old has spent the past two-years working with the Coady Institute and is currently enrolled part-time in the bachelor of business administration program at StFX, with studies in economics, marketing, tourism and finance.

As the institute’s marketing coordinator, MacDonald assists with recruitment, fundraising, events, and overall brand development – which she said is a hue part of her reverent experience – and would allow for a smooth transition into municipal government.

She sees her experience as a self-employed musician as a solid foundation as she started her own business to support other artists by planning tours, marketing their music, and obtaining funding through government grant proposals and fundraising.

“I have always had a strong interest in advocating for people – for their needs and their rights,” she said. “I believe that it is very important to have choices.”

After considering becoming involved in such a position for a few years, it was during the 2016 municipal election that MacDonald decided it was time to step up, when four out of the municipality’s eight districts acclaimed councilors with no contest.

“I was disappointed to learn that we were unable to cast a vote because only one candidate had come forward in our district,” she explained. “Fifty per cent of our districts, of our community members, had no say in choosing the representative that would help shape their future. This was part of the final push in making my decision to come forward for the next election.”

When MacDonald looks at the current council, she sees a number of people who work very hard and pour countless hours of service into improving their communities, but she also sees a lack of diversity and she wants to bring the next generation to the table – for their young people, their families and their collective future.

“Our council is lacking young voices and it’s lacking women’s voices, and those are two things I can add.”

As a councilor, MacDonald’s goal is to improve the economic stability of the area through support for local business; provide open communication and transparency regarding decision-making and financial matters; and to include diverse opinions by supporting community input while designing a collective future for the area’s residents.

“It is integral to greet challenges with critical thinking and visionary leadership, as we build our way to an economic footing that can last long-term,” she said. “It is time to have a young voice at the table who can address this issue from first-hand experience, and help identify the steps toward innovative solutions.”

Advanced polls are scheduled for April 4 and 9 between noon and 8 p.m. and the by-election is scheduled for April 13, with voting taking place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Polling locations include the Guysborough Municipal Building, the Halfway Cove Hall, the Queensport Fire Hall, and the Whitehead Community Centre.