PORT HAWKESBURY: While town voters largely went with experience as they selected their new town council, one of four first-time candidates was able to crack the council roster on Saturday evening.
Jeremy White, a former Port Hawkesbury Rotary Club president and a director of the Port Hawkesbury Community Park Society, joined incumbent councillor Trevor Boudreau and former councillors Hughie MacDougall and Mark MacIver as the top four vote-getters in Port Hawkesbury’s municipal elections.
The four will join incoming Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, who was acclaimed to her post after nominations closed on September 13.
“I was getting a little more confidence this week, with the feedback I was getting from the community, but you just don’t know until that final vote comes in,” White told The Reporter during a post-election celebration for town council candidates at the Strait Area Yacht Club.
“I’m actually still trying to absorb it. The Town of Port Hawkesbury put their faith and me, and I won’t let them down.”
Boudreau, the only incumbent councillor to re-offer for the four available seats, received the most support of any individual candidate with 914 votes, according to unofficial results made available Saturday evening. A close race for second place ended with MacDougall, MacIver and White taking 787, 780 and 778 votes, respectively.
Sensing “a different tone” on the doorstep during his second election campaign, Boudreau is now pledging to work for a shift in council’s relationship with the public.
“I’m a big believer in accountability and I’m also a big believer in respecting other people’s opinions, so I’m looking forward to trying to change up a little bit of how we do things, but also recognizing the importance of all voices being heard,” Boudreau stressed.
MacDougall, who bowed out of the council race in 2012 to run for the mayor’s job, said he “missed” sitting at the Port Hawkesbury Town Council table and hopes to encourage the town to take a more collaborative approach with other Strait area municipal units.
“We have the second-largest ice-free port in the world, we have all this infrastructure, but it’s not being utilized,” MacDougall insisted. “We really have to use what we have.”
Saying he was “excited” to work with a new mayor, MacIver, who left municipal politics due to work commitments four years ago, was grateful for another chance to serve Port Hawkesbury voters.
“I’m overwhelmed that they put their confidence in me to come back, and I’m sure I’m going to work with them as I always did,” MacIver enthused.
Port Hawkesbury’s Chief Returning Officer, Cathy Conrad, estimated voter turnout in the town at approximately 60 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 2012.