Winding up to their final day of campaigning, Prince Albert’s three mayoral candidates want to see an increase in voter turnout cap off their efforts.
Having made their cases for residents’ vote since Dean Link became the first to throw his hat into the ring in February, their campaigns have covered a lot of ground.
The Daily Herald caught up with the mayoral candidates, including Link, Greg Dionne and incumbent Jim Scarrow, on Monday for last-minute messages to constituents prior to casting their votes on Wednesday.
Link’s campaign slogan, F.A.S.T., represents fiscal responsibility, accountability, safety and transparency, and hasn’t changed very much since he announced his candidacy with a letter to the editor printed in February, he said.
“My campaign’s been held on these principles,” he said. “I haven’t deviated greatly from that message.
“(Taxpayers) want their money’s worth, and a lot of them are deeply concerned about the issues, and they’re not just the central issues like the bridge.”
Often calling the $170,000 replacement of the fence leading up Second Avenue West an example of fiscal irresponsibility, since February Link has added many items to his list of criticism against the current incarnation of city council.
Projecting himself as the voice of change, Link said that he’s offering the city something the other candidates aren’t.
“I’m offering them accountability and transparency, and I’m offering something new and I don’t have the old boys’ stigma,” he said.
Three-term Ward 2 councillor Greg Dionne was the second to enter the mayor’s race, announcing his candidacy in March.
Since then, his campaign platform has been altered in light of the concerns brought forth by constituents on the campaign trail. His focus has become more open concept, with Dionne projecting himself as an ideas man.
“They’re looking for change,” Dionne said. “They like my idea about re-doing all the committees and the mayor not being the chair of all the committees — what I call de-powering the mayor.”
Often campaigning on the idea of the city having “nine bosses,” he said that he plans on spending the next four years sharing as many ideas as possible.
Those living outside the city should pay more for recreational facilities, with the added income going toward a reserve for a future multiplex, he said. A number of facilities, such as the Art Hauser Centre, need 10-year plans in place, therefore sparing the city expensive knee-jerk reactions when things go wrong.
But, if council votes against these ideas, Dionne said that, as mayor, he’d become a “salesman for that motion.”
“If you want your community moving ahead, you’ve got go get them thinking and talking,” Dionne said.
The last to throw his hat into the ring was Jim Scarrow, who made his announcement on Sept. 14.
As incumbent, he’s earned the most criticism on the campaign trail, but he’s also managed to turn some of it around.
During the Chamber of Commerce’s mayoral forum on Oct. 17, he let the audience know that Link’s campaign point about the city spending $370,000 unnecessarily on intersection roadwork was false.
At the beginning of October, Scarrow was the only mayoral candidate campaigning on the need for a new Victoria Hospital. Now, both of his opponents are on board, albeit with different proposed means of funding the project.
Scarrow also questions Link’s insistence that city hall’s books need to be “opened up.”
“Every effort is made to do that,” Scarrow said. “They’re opened up each year with an audit.”
Running in part on his track record as mayor, Scarrow cites several areas of improvement in Prince Albert, including residential construction, industrial growth, more rental units, additional child care spaces and the re-opening of the Prince Albert Pulp Mill, which will have a potential trickle down in the area of at least 1,000 jobs.
Roadwork will also be a priority, though as recent paving projects have proven, the infrastructure under the roads, such as pipework, pump up costs.
This, Scarrow said, is where an increasingly three-pronged funding approach between municipal, provincial and federal funding will come into play.
“I’m very confident that by working with the ministries of government that we’ll have a second bridge confirmed for Prince Albert” Scarrow said, noting that a new Victoria Hospital is second on his list for government consideration.
“I’ve enjoyed my work as mayor over two terms, but there’s still more to do,” Scarrow said.
“This is a great city and we need to keep looking into the future. That’s the vision I think P.A. needs.”
Election day is on Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. On this date, any Canadian citizen that has resided in Saskatchewan for the past six consecutive months and is at least 18 years of age is eligible to vote.
The city has 21 polling stations spread out across the city, with every resident able to vote at only one location, as stipulated in the city’s official Voter’s Guide.
Those eligible to vote must have either government-issued photo identification (driver’s licence) or two other pieces of identification, including one with the voter’s name and the other with the name and current address.
The specifics of identification and other election day issues are available online, at www.citypa.ca.
Prince Albert residents will have a chance to vote for trustees on one of two school boards, at their choice, for mayor, and for seven of eight city councillors. Ward 7 is the exception, as it was acclaimed by Mark Tweidt.