PORT HAWKESBURY: Four candidates have officially declared their interest in the vacant seat on Port Hawkesbury Town Council.

Dawna MacDonald, Port Hawkesbury’s returning officer, advised The Reporter late last Tuesday that Blaine MacQuarrie, Michele Tabensky, Dave Ryan, and Maris Freimanis all have submitted applications to replace the vacated seat by councilor Jeremy White, who moved to Inverness County.

Former Port Hawkesbury Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Maris Freimanis said he chose to run because he felt with his diverse municipal experience and wide range of responsibilities over the last 40-years, that he’d able to contribute to continued growth and development in the town.

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Freimanis said he has a good sense of the priorities and issues facing the town for which his experience would be an asset.

“I was CAO for the town for six-years, through my leadership and that of council and town staff during those six-years, the town was able to achieve a positive position,” he said. “That resulted in cost effective operations and the ability to undertake infrastructure improvements we see today.”

Dave Ryan who ran and lost in the 2016 municipal elections retired in 2005 after spending 40 years working at Port Hawkesbury Paper, where he spent 25 years in the union and then 15 years as a supervisor.

“I’ve lived here all my life, there’s my home right there,” Ryan said standing outside his Nova Court residence pointing to his childhood home which was less than 50 feet away. “I’ve seen a lot of things; I’d try and make the town better, try and get industry in here, try and get small businesses back in here.”

Ryan said he would especially like to see industry return to the town, to help aid in bringing back the youth, as his children had to go away to find work.

“When your children go away to work, they don’t come back.”

For Freimanis, the most important issue facing the town is long term sustainability in terms of finances, operations and growth and he said a positive climate for business and economic growth, housing development – both affordable and senior, health – doctor availability, community wellness, and infrastructure improvements are needed.

“The key focus points of my campaign are to address issues that support long term sustainability: economic and business development, health and wellness, housing, town infrastructure, property assessments, Waterfront development, Destination Reeves Street and Granville Street opportunities all of which contribute to improving our tax base,” he said. “My focus is on creating a positive climate and advancing current projects and programs. We need to channel our efforts to addressing the major issues.”

Another issue Ryan said he would tackle if he won the council seat is creating a better waterfront.

“We have a beautiful port and I’d like to see it utilized better,” he said. “We need more industry [to] come in, and do something with the waterfront to make it more attractive for tourists.”

Ryan plans to begin canvassing door-to-door this week, and advises that even though he’s not on social media, he’ll always be available the old fashioned way.

“I’m not on social media, I don’t text, or use Facebook, but when my phone rings, I pick it up.”

Freimanis believes in open and supportive communications, with concern for the individual and a commitment to performance.

“I have a strong vision and very positive feeling for the Town of Port Hawkesbury,” he said. “With business development, good roads and services, activities for all ages and adequate housing, our future will be sustainable.”