© Paul Hutchings
Deer Lake mayoral candidates Dean Ball, left, and Myra Spence speak with town residents Frank Compton, far right, and Bob Baker after the candidates meet and greet event at Elwood High on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
DEER LAKE — Council transparency, waste management and infrastructure were just some of the topics discussed by council hopefuls during a candidate meet and greet session at Elwood High in Deer Lake Tuesday night.
About 60 people crowded into the school cafeteria to hear candidates introduce themselves and talk about why they should get residents’ votes during next week’s municipal election. Attendees heard statements and opinions on several issues from all seven current council members and three hopefuls.
The election will see current Mayor Dean Ball square off against current Coun. Myra Spence. It was not a debate format, but rather set up so voters could put a face to the names on the ballot.
Ball opened with his comments on town growth over the past few years and how as a result, Deer Lake has a bright future. Spence said in her statement that there is a need to be smarter about expansion and that without a better plan, development could be like a patchwork quilt — a little of this and that but nothing consistent.
All of the other councillors are vying for to retain their seats including, Elmo Bingle, Kerry Jones, Sheila Mercer, Sandra Pinksen and Jean Young. Hopefuls trying for a seat for the first time include Amanda Freake, Angie Parsons and Gary Winsor. Jim Williams dropped out of the race last week.
Residents polled after the event ended were varied about what issues were important to them. Diane Hoyles, who considers herself a seniors’ advocate, felt there could have been more discussed about seniors’ issues.
“There needs to be a better transportation system in place so that the seniors can get out of their homes and do something,” she said. “I’d love to see someone go around and find out how many seniors there are that need help, a lot of them are lonely, and get something in place to help them.”
The issue of waste management was raised, as some of the council hopefuls did discuss the current plans to amalgamate the province’s waste system into two or three large dumping facilities for the province.
“I’d like to see them come up with a cardboard pickup for recycling,” said Karen Mangrove. “We need to be cleaner here.”
Some residents said they were thankful that council has become more transparent in recent years, but expressed an interest in further improvements. Resident Bob Hayden said he has had to be transparent to everyone in his dealings with a union a few years back and expected the same from council for everyday items.
“I want to see them follow the same rules as everyone else,” he said. “I hope they can continue to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”
Deer Lake resident Colleen Tilley remarked how all the candidates seemed to want to do their part.
“I think they all have the same kinds of ideas, just different visions of how to make those ideas work,” she said. “The underlying current here does seem to be transparency and that is an issue we need so that they can all work together.”
The election will take place Sept. 24, with the last advance poll happening on Sept. 21.