Brad Woodside faces young challenger

Brad Woodside says he sees no major issues that could prevent him from winning his eighth term as mayor of Fredericton in the upcoming election.

Matthew Hayes says Fredericton faces many important issues

Brad Woodside says he sees no major issues that could prevent him from winning his eighth term as mayor of Fredericton in the upcoming election.

Woodside, who was first elected as mayor in 1986, seems confident that Fredericton voters will be returning him into office on May 14.

"There are no issues. I mean there's little issues, and they'll always be there. But I mean as for someone coming along with a huge, major issue that says, 'You know what? That's going to knock this guy out of office and get rid of that council,' I think that the city has been run in a very frugal way," he said.

Brad Woodside is the longest-serving mayor in Fredericton. (CBC) ((CBC))

Woodside is running against Matthew Hayes, a bilingual associate professor of sociology at St. Thomas University.

Despite the incumbent mayor's views, Hayes said there are many issues that are facing the city.

He said people are talking to him about issues relating to transit, recycling and urban sprawl.

Hayes said Woodside’s comments suggest the long-time mayor is out of touch.

"Statements like that show that Mr. Woodside is either out of touch, or running scared. I think that there are some very significant issues. And different people have different issues," he said.

"The service for money, the services people are getting for the tax rate people are paying are not sufficient, our transit systems are not adequate for the needs of the community."

Long-time mayor

Woodside was first elected as mayor in 1986 but he was elected as a councillor in 1981.

His longeviety has earned him the distinction of being Fredericton's longest-serving mayor.

Woodside's electoral career is not without a blemish. He resigned in 1999 to run provincial for the Liberals in Fredericton. But he lost by about 500 votes to Progressive Conservative Peter Forbes in the Fredericton North riding.

His period in the political wilderness did not last long, however.

Woodside made a political comeback in 2004 when he unseated one-term mayor Les Hull.

And he easily won re-election in 2008.

Woodside said he’s learned a lot in his three decades of public service.

"Of course I've been there for a while, but I've grown into it, I've matured," Woodside said.

"I think I'm a better mayor today than I ever was, and I think that the next four years will be just as challenging, just as rewarding, and I'm up for the task."

He said this will be his final term as mayor if he wins.

Woodside even offered some advice to Hayes on what he should do to win the mayor’s race.

"The advice I would give to him is, you know, you've got to be known in the community. Involve yourself in the community, work in the community, network in the community," he said.

Hayes acknowledges he’s running against a well-known incumbent but he said there are many people in the community who may have been left out.

"I think that Brad Woodside has a lot of name recognition, but in talking about networking in the community, I think that there's definitely a deficit there. I've been talking with them, I've been working with them," he said.