The race for Ward 2 is wide open for the first time since 1997.
Ward map - St. John's
That’s when Frank Galgay was first elected to council, defeating a slate of nine.
Galgay, re-elected three times, declined not to run again this time around.
But there is still a Galgay in the race — nephew Jonathan Galgay, whose father was the late well-known Hamilton Avenue barber Gus Galgay.
However, both Andrew Harvey and Scott Fitzgerald have the previous experience of campaigning in the ward.
Fitzgerald, with 1,465 votes, came second to Frank Galgay’s 3,652 votes, while Harvey finished in third place among the five candidates at 511 votes in 2009.
Fitzgerald and Harvey aren’t concerned about the Galgay factor, reasoning the incumbent’s name recognition may be just as much a hindrance to Jonathan Galgay.
And Jonathan Galgay, a board member of the Signal Hill Tattoo Advisory Committee and chair of the St. John’s Roman Catholic Cemeteries Committee, is quick to point out he’s running on his own platform.
Harvey, an affordable housing advocate who supports more citizen input at city hall, said he feels confident he’s built his own name recognition — he spent three years attending city hall council meetings and tweeting the proceedings for The Scope alternative newspaper prior to deciding to take another run.
His first run at politics was, said Harvey, an act of frustration executed on $350 budget.
But this time, he’s stepped it up to a professional campaign.
“I have been to 109 council meetings. It’s interesting. A number of people say ‘You are the Twitter guy.’ I really appreciate that,” Harvey said.
Fitzgerald, a minor soccer coach who has also been involved in the
St. Mary’s elementary school council for years, is also campaigning hard for the seat.
He said some people are put off by the mail-in ballot system of voting.
“A lot of seniors feel they have no clue how to do the mail in thing,” he said.
All three candidates are hearing plenty about traffic, parking and the need for better public transit as they go door to door.
The affordability of homes is another big issue for homeowners trying to get started, along with property taxes for those who already own.
“Seniors are being squeezed out of their homes,” Fitzgerald said.
With the oldest sections of the city in Ward 2, including the downtown, many residents don’t feel infrastructure has kept up with increased traffic the booming economy has brought with it.
There’s also a concern about noisy vehicles and large trucks using residential streets.
A major area for that concern is on Kingsbridge Road, Galgay said, as heavy industrial trucks are using the street as a throughway. Of particular worry are the oil tandems.
“If there was an accident at that major intersection … right down Gower ... it could be a disaster,” he said, adding the trucks could be re-routed to another part of the city.
As for the bus system, Galgay advocates for new bus routes, a park-and-ride system, express shuttles for major locations and a rebranding of Metrobus to make it more appealing.
Some downtown residents are concerned residential parking permits are being abused, with people giving or renting visitor’s permits to people who work downtown but don’t live there.
The candidates all say the city needs to come up with a better way of regulating them.
People are also concerned about crime and their neighbourhoods.
Harvey said though neighbourhoods such as Tessier Place are pulling together, there is a worry around the ward about drug-related crime.
“They just feel powerless,” Harvey said.
The reputation that goes along with crime is hurting homeowners, Fitzgerald said.
“A lot of people have been talking about the presence of flop houses,” Fitzgerald said, referring to boarding houses in some sections of the ward — Georgetown, Merrymeeting Road and Freshwater Road.
“Longtime homeowners look after their property, then have all this activity. Now they are choosing to sell their homes. … The only recourse they have is to move.”