Monday, May 9, 2016

New Brunswick municipal elections today

Map of New Brunswick's municipalities and wards
Voters in New Brunswick are heading to the polls today in municipal elections. Not only will voters be electing new mayors and councils across the province's 107 municipalities, they will also be voting for district education councils and regional health authorities. One municipality, Oromocto will also be holding a plebiscite to see if voters want bi-weekly recycle collection.

Since the last municipal elections in 2012 the province gained two new municipalities: the rural communities of Cocagne and Hanwell, bringing the total number of municipalities in the province up from 105 to 107. Furthermore, the Town of Tracadie-Sheila amalgamated with surrounding local service districts to become the new regional municipality of Tracadie.

Voters in the municipalities of Alma, Baker-Brook, Bath, Bertrand, Cambridge Narrows, Campobello Island, Clair, Hartland, Maisonnette, Meductic, Millville, Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska, Saint-Isidore, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, Saint-Quentin, Shippagan and Stanley will not be voting in council or mayoral elections, as all candidates running were acclaimed, that is they were elected to their positions without opposition.

The municipalities of Aroostook, Balmoral, Beresford, Blacks Harbour, Bouctouche, Canterbury, Cap-Pelé, Caraquet, Dorchester, Florenceville-Bristol, Gagetown, Hampton, Harvey, Hillsborough, New Maryaland, Nigadoo, Norton, Petitcodiac, Petit-Rocher, Pointe-Verte, Port Elgin, Richibucto, Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaël, Saint-Léonard, Shediac, St. Hilaire, Sussex, Sussex Corner, Tide Head, Tracy and Woodstock will not be holding mayoral elections, as candidates for that position were also acclaimed.

And, there will only be races for mayor in Charlo, Drummond, Saint Andrews, St. Martins and Upper Miramichi as the rest of council was acclaimed.

Let's take a look at the races in New Brunswick's three largest cities:



The race for mayor of Fredericton is between long-time mayor Brad Woodside and Ward 3 councillor Michael O'Brien.

Woodside has been involved in Fredericton politics for a long time. He was first elected as mayor in 1986, but was first elected to council in 1981. He resigned as mayor in 1999, but was re-elected in 2004 and has served as mayor ever since. He resigned in 1999 to run for the Liberals in the provincial election that year in the riding of Fredericton North, losing to the Progressive Conservatives in a close race.

Woodside won re-election in 2012, defeating left-leaning professor Matthew Hayes 63% to 37%. Woodside won 10 of the city's 12 wards, while Hayes won the two downtown wards, an area that is now held by the Green Party in the provincial legislature. Woodside saw his strongest support on the more suburban north side of the Saint John River.

This election is expected to be much closer than in 2012, as Woodside's opponent is more credible in city councillor Michael O'Brien, who has been a councillor since 2001. O'Brien was previously an engineer and worked for NB Liquor for 30 years. He is known for promoting affordable housing and social causes.

Candidates for mayor

Fredericton's 12 wards saw a re-drawing of their boundaries, and so this year's council election will be fought on a new electoral map. Each ward elects one member to city council, which means there are 13 council members including the mayor. Wards 1, 4 and 5 will not have elections as the candidates in those wards were elected with no opposition. In Ward 4, a non incumbent was acclaimed, Eric Price, as its current councillor, Eric Megarity decided to run in Ward 6 instead, against sitting councillor Marilyn Kerton. New ward boundaries have meant one other sitting councillor has had to run in a different seat. In addition to Megarity's move, Ward 2 councillor Bruce Grandy is running in Ward 3, leaving that ward as an open seat. There will be two other open races as Ward 7 councillor Scott McConaghy and Ward 12 councillor Randy Dickinson are not running for re-election.
Fredericton's new ward map



Two-term incumbent mayor George LeBlanc will not be running for re-election, leaving the mayoral race in the Hub City wide open. LeBlanc's decision to not run has come after a failed bid to win the federal Liberal Party nomination in Moncton's riding in last year's federal election.  LeBlanc easily won re-election as mayor of the city in 2012, defeating former NDP candidate Carl Bainrbidge 87% to 13%. LeBlanc won all four wards in the city by over 85% of the vote.

The race to replace LeBlanc is between two sitting city councillors, at large city councillor Dawn Arnold and Ward 3 city councillor Brian Hicks. Hicks is a Liberal, having run in the 2014 provincial election in Moncton Northwest, losing to the PCs in a close race. He has served on city council since 1999, and was previously a businessman, having managed two inter-provincial trucking companies. Arnold was first elected to city council in the 2012 election, managing to top the poll in the race for at-large city councillor. Previously, she was the chair of the local “Frye Festival”, a local bilingual literary festival.

Candidates for mayor

In addition to the mayoral race, there are 10 seats up for grabs on Moncton's city council. Each of Moncton's four wards will elect two city councillors while the remaining two city councillors are elected city-wide on an at-large basis. With Arnold running for mayor, there will only be one incumbent (Pierre Boudreau) running for re-election as Moncton's at-large councillor. In addition to Boudreau, there are seven candidates running for the two at-large positions. With Brian Hicks running for mayor, and Ward 3's other councillor, Daniel Bourgeois not running for re-election, there will be an open race for that ward's two council seats. The incumbents in the remaining three wards in the city are all running for re-election.

Saint John


Saint John will also see an open race for mayor, as the city's current head, Mel Norton is retiring and will be running for leader of the province's Progressive Conservative Party. Norton had only been mayor of the city for one term, being first elected in the 2012 election, when he defeated the previous mayor, Ivan Court in a landslide, 76% to 15%. Norton easily won all four wards in the city, three of which with over three quarters of the vote. The only ward he did not break 75% was Ward 3, which covers the central part of the city, despite this being the ward he had previously represented on city council.

With Norton not running for re-election, five candidates have stepped up to replace him, Deputy Mayor Shelley Rinehart, councillor Bill Faren, former city councillor Patty Higgins, businessman Don Darling and fringe candidate Howard Yeomans.

The three main candidates for mayor
Rinehart was first elected to Saint John's city council in 2012, topping the polls for one of two at-large positions, becoming deputy mayor in the process. Prior to her election, she served as a business professor. She ran for the provincial Liberals in the 2014 Saint John East by-election, going down to defeat against the Progressive Conservative candidate, despite the Liberals having just won the seat two months earlier in the provincial election.  Farren is one of the two city councillors representing Ward 1, and was first elected to council in 2004.  Farren ran for the NDP in the 1999 provincial election in the riding of Saint John Lancaster, finishing third. Higgins sat on Saint John's council from 2008 to 2012, when she lost her Ward 2 seat by a narrow margin. While sitting as a city councillor, Higgins ran for the Green Party in the 2010 provincial election in the riding of Saint John Harbour, coming in last place. Darling is a local consultant and owns a small construction business, while Yeomans is a retiree who considers himself an “average citizen”.

Saint John's city council is elected the same way as Moncton's. There are four wards, which elect two councillors each, plus two councillors are elected at-large. The at-large councillor with the most votes becomes deputy mayor.

With Rinehart running for mayor, only one incumbent is running for re-election in the at-large race, Shirley McAlary. She is running against five other candidates for the two positions. Both incumbents from Wards 3 and 4 will be running for re-election as well. Meanwhile in Wards 1 and 2, only one incumbent is running for re-election. In Ward 1 only Greg Norton is running for re-election, as its other councillor, Bill Faren is running for mayor. In Ward 2 only John MacKenzie is running for re-election as Susan Fullerton is retiring.

Polls close at 8pm, Atlantic time or 7pm Eastern.