One of the province’s top curlers, Greg Smith, is the second to announce his intention to run in the upcoming St. John’s Ward 2 byelection, and if successful, he’d be the second curler on the current city council, joining Olympic gold medallist and Ward 3 Coun. Jamie Korab.
Last week, academic and activist Ophelia Ravencroft also announced her intention to run. Ravencroft is a nonbinary woman, and Smith said that means both people to put their names forward so far for Ward 2 are members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as he also identifies as a member of the community.
“I think having diverse candidates, (and) I think having young candidates are incredibly important,” he said.
“I think that young people are often misrepresented in politics, and our voices and our issues are not necessarily heard and brought up to the fold.”
Smith is 24 years old, and is already well-known for representing the province at the 2018 Brier Canadian men’s curling championship as the skip for the Newfoundland and Labrador team where he won the Ross Harstone Sportsmanship Award. It’s awarded annually to a Brier curler who displays good sportsmanship, observance of the rules, exemplary conduct and curling ability.
Smith said curling is a passion of his, and he aims to put his hard work and energy into ensuring people’s voices are heard at City Hall, and to “find ideas and strategies to make this city a powerhouse on the East Coast.”
He plans to release a detailed platform in the coming weeks, but in the meantime he said one of the top issues that is important to him is retaining young people in the city, and attracting young people to want to move here to work and raise their families.
Smith also spoke a lot about supporting downtown businesses.
“A lot of businesses, in office towers especially, are moving out of the downtown, and we need to be able to put them back in, retain what’s there, and attract them to be in the downtown because otherwise the other small businesses — the restaurants and whatever — will not succeed.”
He said the city needs to do what it can to make it easier for people to create small businesses.
Other issues he said he’ll lend his voice to include speeding, transportation, snowclearing and litter. Smith said there should be more garbage and recycling containers in residential areas to help alleviate litter concerns.
Despite two people already announcing their intention to run, nominations don’t officially open until Sept. 15, and then close on Sept. 22.
The election period begins Oct. 2, and election day is Oct. 20. Voting will occur by mail-in ballot, with further details regarding that process to be announced soon, according to a city news release issued Monday.
“We encourage — if anyone is interested in offering themselves up for the seat of Ward 2 councillor — to contact city hall and get their information in the next few weeks that they need, and the requirements to proceed,” said Mayor Danny Breen during the Monday council meeting when the dates were announced.
As per the Municipal Elections Act, whoever wins the Ward 2 byelection will hold office for the unexpired term of council — in this case, until the next municipal election next year.
The byelection is required because former Ward 2 Coun. Hope Jamieson resigned to take a new position with a national housing organization.
In the interim, if anyone in Ward 2 has concerns they want to discuss with a councillor, Coun. Debbie Hanlon is taking over responsibilities for that ward until the election.
Some on social media on Monday questioned why a byelection is required for Ward 2, but not for councillor at large Dave Lane, who announced back in February that he would be resigning in December. That’s because his resignation in December would leave less than a year on his term, and regulations state that if a resignation takes place with less than 12 months remaining to a councillor’s term, then a byelection is not required.