The trick to being a good politician in Ward 5 is representing everybody.
The sprawling electoral district takes in everything from Fort Amherst out to Cape Spear and down to Southlands, including Goulds, Kilbride, Shea Heights and Black Head.
It’s a big job.
“There’s a lot of issues, and it’s hard to please everyone where the ward is so big. You know, you do something for Southlands, that’s no good for someone in Black Head. You do something for Kilbride, that’s no good for someone in the Goulds,” says Wally Collins, who’s represented the ward since 2005.
“You’ve got to go where the need is to, you know? Like, schools. We’ve got to get sidewalks in front of our schools now — one in Shea Heights is a big priority, and one in the backline in the Goulds.”
Sherwin Flight, who’s trying to unseat Collins in Ward 5, said basically the same thing in a different way.
“They’re just looking for someone that’s going to listen to their concerns and really act in their best interest,” he said.
“The issues in Shea Heights are somewhat different from the issues out in the Goulds, so it’s kind of hard to sum it all up easily like it is in some of the other wards.”
Flight acknowledged that in a lot of ways, he’s the underdog in the election, but he said it’ll be up to voters to decide whether they’re satisfied with the job Collins has been doing.
“In one way, it feels like an uphill battle because I’m just getting into this and he’s been around for a while and all,” he said.
“I know for Wally Collins, he’s been there for a few years now. Some people have said he’s been there long enough to get some of these things done, but the issues are still there.”
Both Flight and Collins said the issues in Ward 5 are different than other parts of the city. Development is big on the agenda, but basic things like water, sewer and sidewalks are what people want.
“Water and sewer is a million dollars a mile. So you know, we were so far away from Water Street, say, you had to hook it all the way in through Kilbride to get to the Goulds,” Collins said.
Flight said being on the outskirts, he hears people saying that they feel like they’re left out.
“They’re sort on the outside of the city,” he said.
“Some of them say, you know, they’re the last to get snowclearing. Some of them are saying, you know we don’t have very good public transit or we don’t even have a full-time fire station, even though 20 years ago we were promised the same services.”