PORT HAWKESBURY: Several people have expressed interest in the vacant seat on Port Hawkesbury Town Council, but as of Tuesday morning, four candidates had officially declared their interest.

According to Dawna MacDonald, Port Hawkesbury’s returning officer, Blaine MacQuarrie, Michele Tabensky, Dave Ryan, and Maris Freimanis have all submitted applications to replace the vacated seat by former town councillor Jeremy White, who moved to Inverness County.

Social worker Blaine MacQuarrie says he believes his work experience and his involvement with volunteer organizations provides him with a strong foundation to serve on town council, in a media release sent to The Reporter last Friday.

“I spent many years volunteering with the former Strait Area Waterfront Development Society,” MacQuarrie noted. “I was the society’s secretary for 19 years, and during that time, I had the privilege of being the coordinator for the Ceilidhs at the Creamery. In addition, I also volunteered with the Festival of the Strait and also served as the chair of Ship Harbour Days.”

MacQuarrie, who has been a lifelong Port Hawkesbury resident, has worked at the Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital for 11 years, and has worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness for the past 17 years, believes this is an exciting time for Port Hawkesbury and says he will work to see the town grow.

“One of the main issues facing the town is the need for doctors and nurses,” he said. “I believe that town council has a role to play in coming up with creative solutions not only to recruit these medical professionals, but also to encourage them to stay.”

MacQuarrie added that physician and nurse recruitment is especially important to senior citizens in Port Hawkesbury.

“Along with having doctors and nurses, town council also needs to look at ways to promote the development of accessible and affordable housing for seniors and for the other residents of Port Hawkesbury.”

MacQuarrie highlighted the most enjoyable aspect of this experience has been the opportunity to meet with residents and learn what they think town council can do for them and their neighbours.

“I have had very engaging conversations where people have shared their concerns with me. I really appreciate the feedback that I have been given,” he said. “One thing that is often discussed with me is Reeves Street and the safety concerns which people share. We need to see how we can improve safety along Reeves Street without causing additional safety concerns.”

MacQuarrie will be hosting a town hall to continue his conversation with residents on November 22 at the Evergreen Senior Citizens Club at 7 p.m.

The only other candidate to contact The Reporter by press time Tuesday morning was That Dog Place owner Michele Tabensky.

In a press release, Tabensky said she sees a positive and prosperous future for the Town of Port Hawkesbury, is encouraged by the town’s infrastructure investments over the last two years, and wants to be a part of council.

As a small business owner, Tabensky knows how a positive and cooperative attitude can help advance projects and she wants to bring this attitude to council.

She’s known for her openness, her capacity to listen and her desire to make things better. She knows that hard work is needed to accomplish most goals and is willing to work hard with Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton and other town councillors to create a prosperous Port Hawkesbury.

Tabensky, another lifelong resident of Port Hawkesbury, was raised to give back to her community and being awarded the True Rotarian award this fall confirms this is a lifestyle for her, not just items on a resume.

She plans on visiting with residents this week, where she will listen first and then discuss her plan.

Advanced polls are scheduled for December 8 and 11 in the Shannon Studio at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. The by-election is scheduled for December 15, with the special election poll taking place in the SAREC gymnasium.