BEAVER BANK: They say first impressions go a long way.
If that’s the case, the three council candidates in HRM District 14 Middle/Upper Sackville, Lucasville and Beaver Bank—Kevin Copley, incumbent Brad Johns, and Lisa Blackburn—were hoping to do just that.
The three made presentations to the Grade 5/6, and 6 classes at Beaver Bank-Kinsac School (BBKS) on Oct. 7 as part of the 2016 StudentVote campaign. BBK students were to vote on Oct. 14.
Copley began by telling the group of about 26 students a bit about himself, and that his wife, Jennifer, teaches right across from the room they are in—the Grade Primary class.
“You can ask her all kinds of questions to about me, why I’m running and what I’m like,” Copley told the students, who are doing the StudentVote as part of their social studies class.
He said it’s important for the students—even though they are a few years away from being eligible to actually cast a ballot—to learn about politics.
“We all have a part to play,” he said. “It’s an important duty.”
Copley asked the students what they thought a politician did. The answers he received varied, including one student who said “you argue” to much laughter in the room.
He explained to the kids the things municipal councillors are responsible for—from snow plowing;garbage and compost pickup; painting lines on streets; paving and building streets; providing money for rec centers, like the BBK Community Centre, and managing the day-to-day operations of HRM.
Copley told the students about when he became interested in municipal politics and his background, which includes a Bachelor of Community Design from Dalhousie University.
“We have a lot of work to make the Beaver Bank community even better,” he said. “Every body matters. Every vote matters.
“You need to know the candidates that are running, and you all do. That’s really impressive.”
Incumbent Brad Johns was next to speak. He started his speech talking about the happy face he has on most of his election signs. He also pointed to his the happy face tie he was wearing—it’s one of 57 that he has. That came about from his time at BBK, Beaver Bank Monarch and Harold T. Barrett Junior High as their librarian.
Unlike most politicians, they have a platform they’re running on. He doesn’t, Johns said.
“I just try to do my job from day-to-day,” he said. “I’m trying to stay in. I enjoy the job.”
As he has gone door-to-door campaigning, many of the issues he heard there were the same ones the students were asking him about. Sidewalks; speeding; and crosswalks to name a few.
He told the crowd what the best part of the job as councillor is—doing things like making playgrounds; working on parks, bringing buildings like the community centre to fruition.
“Every Tuesday I have to go into City Hall,” said Johns. “We have a bunch of meetings and talk about different things.
“That’s the least favourite part of my job, having to go all the way to Halifax. I’m not a big city guy. I’m more of a country guy. I like it better out here.”
Blackburn said she is “applying for the job as District 14 councillor.”
“I say it that way because I consider a political campaign to be a job interview,” said Blackburn. “It’s up to me to convince my potential bosses, that’s all of you guys the voters, that I have the skills, the personality, the commitment to properly represent you on HRM council.”
Commuter rail and transit are among the issues she’s hearing as she goes door-to-door in the riding.
She said for her job was a journalist it allowed her to question what council did and not be afraid to ask councillors why they voted the way they did.
“I think that’s one of the things that sets me apart form other people that are running for council, because I’ve studied them for a number of years,” said Blackburn. “Another part that has prepared me is 25 years of community service.”
Blackburn thought the StudentVote initiative was a good way to get the students started early on.
“What you’re doing here today is really fantastic,” she said.
There was a main message all three candidates agreed upon.
“Why should you guys care about this now?” asked Blackburn. “Because a lot of decisions that are made at city council, they impact you, they affect you. It is important that you know what’s going on and help make decisions.”
Ash Lee Jefferson School in Fall River and Oldfield Consolidated in Enfield were also taking part in StudentVote in District 1. The results from the StudentVote were to be released after the Oct. 15 election.