Current councillors up against group of 6, one independent
Randy Simms has been acclaimed for another term as mayor of Mount Pearl, which he chalks up to the work that he and the city’s six councillors have done in the past four years.
“I feel they think that council did a good job,” he said.
“I think all I am is the symbol as the mayor — the ceremonial head of the local government, I suppose. I think that the people of the community look at what we do as a group, as, for the want of a word, as a board of directors.”
That “board of directors” includes deputy mayor Jim Locke and councillors Dave Aker, Andrew Ledwell, Lucy Stoyles, Paula Tessier and John Walsh, all of whom are running again.
For the next four years, Simms said, he wants to focus on the council’s three-year-old strategic plan.
“Do we continue to grow, and will that be our focus?” he said. “Recognizing that our boundaries are limited, and that we will continue to grow anyway simply because of what’s happening in the region, maybe our emphasis should shift, and council agreed to, if you will, a vision that said no. Instead of working constantly to grow, which so many municipalities find that they have to do, let’s work on a theory of constant improvement. Let’s try and constantly improve our municipal services. Let’s see if we can’t deliver what we’re delivering now better than we have been, and let’s see if there’s not more we can do than we are doing.”
But businessman Travis Faulkner, leading a slate of six candidates hoping for a wholesale turnover of council, thinks council is already doing too much — or at least spending too much.
“We’re a group of six individual concerned citizens wanting to change the old guard,” said Faulkner, who organized five other candidates — Riley Bradshaw, Tony Janes, Douglas Kirby, Steve Stanley and Dave Tiller — to run as a team for the six councillor spots. Faulkner — who cheerfully admitted he’s “not a fan” of Simms — said he doesn’t like using the word “slate” to describe the group.
“We refer to ourselves as a group of people with the same message, the same vision,” he said. “We’re giving Mount Pearl an opportunity to vote for six of us. If we get three, if we get two, if we get four, that’ll be the voters’ decision.”
The biggest issue for the group, said Faulkner, is what they see as overspending — on everything from travel for council, to painting city’s vehicles blue, to council’s Christmas dinner.
“All we’re doing here is we’re going after, essentially, the amount of money that they’re just blowing on us,” he said. “The problem in Mount Pearl is sleepy and complacent, and what we’ve done is kind of stirred the pot here now.”
It’s not just civic duty that Faulkner wants to reinvigorate — he laments poor voter turnout in recent elections — but civic pride.
“I want to put on concerts over here in the track and field club,” he said. “Three years have gone by since we’ve had a concert here. We can hold 20,000, 25,000 people in that field, and we’re missing out on the opportunity.”
Candidate Larry Smallwood finds himself somewhere in the middle; he’s the only person running for council who isn’t an incumbent or a member of Faulkner’s group, which he thinks is coming off “a little harsh.”
“There’s six and six, and I’m the 13th,” he said, laughing. “I’m the man in the middle.”
Smallwood, a project manager for the provincial government, said Mount Pearl is reasonable well-run, and he felt it was time to increase his civic involvement.
“I’ve been serving on the Frosty Festival and City Days and a number of different things around Mount Pearl for five to six years, and it seemed as though it was time to step it up and become a better volunteer and become a councillor,” he said.
Smallwood said city planning is his biggest concern.
“We can’t grow out. We can only grow up,” he said. “When we build anything to do with housing now, we need to make it multi-level. One of the huge things is to keep our tax base; the businesses that are over in Donovans and stuff like that, we need to be able to enhance those as best we can, and keep good relationships with the businesses in the city.”
Mount Pearl has been a strong community for a long time, said Smallwood, and he wants to keep that alive.
“The thing that I can do is put a new set of eyes in there, stretch the dollar. I’m not sure that the full council is in agreement with me on growing the businesses and having a more, I don’t know, open mind with businesses,” he said, adding that he has good working relationships with the business community due to his provincial career.
“I’ve created a large circle of business friends, of which a lot of them are backing me. They’ve donated to my campaign, a lot of them, and they’re hoping I get in, because they know that I manage money well. I manage projects well.”