Fewer than two weeks away, the most coveted seat at city council is in the midst of a heated contest in the Oct. 24 civic election.
The city’s three candidates, Dean Link, Greg Dionne and incumbent Jim Scarrow, are winding up their campaign efforts, blanketing the city in campaign signs, door-knocking efforts and other tactics to spread their messages.
The following is an update on each of the three campaigns and the issues the candidates are narrowing in on during their campaigns’ final weeks.
Vote for Scarrow!
Fresh from the press, mayoral incumbent Jim Scarrow mailed off campaign brochures this week to every household in the city, highlighting basics from his platform.
“We’re doing very well, and I have quite a large group working with me … getting the vote out and getting advice on what the issues are, and those kinds of things,” Scarrow said.
The need for a second North Saskatchewan River crossing near Prince Albert is the No. 1 concern brought to him on the campaign trail — an effort the Build a Second Bridge Campaign the city led appears to be gaining ground on, he said.
Since his campaign began, Scarrow has also proven himself the only mayoral candidate to place a new hospital on his platform.
“I’m receiving good comment on the fact that I would be one to raise the cause of a new hospital,” he said.
“These facilities are led by councils and the mayors, so I think that was good to get out there.”
In addition to his future goals as mayor, Scarrow has his reputation as incumbent to run on.
“I’m a candidate, like everyone else,” he said. “I think the record is fair to moderate, in terms of my role as mayor.”
One success is the Prince Albert Pulp Mill’s re-opening, something he isn’t taking full credit for, while recognizing there was a role for the mayor to play.
“I took a minor, but what I think was an important role,” Scarrow said. “I never let up. I never quit talking about the forest industry. I went to Ottawa and spoke there about the industry — very opportunity I had to promote the forest industry.”
The mill has re-opened with the employment of 50 people and another 200 by next year.
“It gave me great satisfaction when I received a phone call that there were buyers in the wings for the mill, so it was a great-great day.”
Vote for Link!
In the final week of his campaign, mayoral candidate Dean Link has narrowed in on one city expenditure that he said is a symbol of the current city council’s frivolous spending — the fence leading up Second Avenue West.
In August, city council voted in favour of spending almost $170,000 on the project, although Couns. Charlene Miller and Lee Atkinson voting against the motion.
“People are just flabbergasted,” Link said of the expenditure. “It just goes to show how many people are unaware of what goes in in city council.”
We’re doing very well, and I have quite a large group working with me … getting the vote out and getting advice on what the issues are, and those kinds of things. - Mayoral incumbent Jim Scarrow
Link compares this expenditure he views as frivolous to Ontario MP Bev Oda’s $16 glass of orange juice, which paved the way for her downfall.
“People will not tolerate reckless and unnecessary spending!” Link exclaimed.
“Coun. Dionne voted for it, too — I lump the two of them together. They represent what is wrong with council right now and I’m hoping to change that.”
The current dysfunction of city council has proven another popular topic, Link said.
“There are obviously personalities there that don’t get along, and there’s nobody there to straighten it out. The mayor has had opportunities to take the bitterness out of the debate but has only added to it,” he said.
Link’s door-to-door campaigning will continue to be complemented by phone calls, putting up more campaign signs and meetings with groups and organizations — all of which important facets of any campaign, he said.
“As long as I can talk to people I think I can convince them that I’m on the right track.”
Vote for Dionne!
Part of Dionne’s campaign has been differentiating himself from Scarrow, drawing attention to what he said inspired him to run for the mayoral position rather than as incumbent city councillor — what he perceives as Scarrow’s poor leadership.
“I just received Mr. Scarrow’s brochure, and I am disappointed in it,” Dionne said. “It shocked me.”
Scarrow’s campaign brochure cites things like increased funding to the SPCA and the Pineview Terrace Lodge’s groundbreaking — both of which council passed with reluctance.
“I believe that if you’re going to put something into writing, it’s got to be totally, 100 per cent correct,” Dionne said. “It can’t be 60 per cent correct.”
Pulling the SPCA funding aside as a point of contention, Dionne said that it took several months of a divided council to pass the funding increase.
“It’s misleading in the way that it sounded like we were all buddy-buddy and co-operative and we approved it, and that’s not the case,” Dionne said.
“He didn’t lead us,” he said of Scarrow. “We’re dysfunctional.”
Scarrow’s campaign goal of a new hospital is another point of contention.
“I certainly will not be supporting a request for a new hospital, because I know what the final bill’s going to be, and we can use that money for a lot more things in our community,” Dionne said.
The next couple weeks will be extremely busy, he said, with speaking engagements, door-to-door canvassing and the distribution of brochures via Canada Post.
“Now that we’re done with council we can focus on campaigning, and I think they’re going to hear a lot over the next 10 days.”