Halifax candidates debate urban sprawl, tax reform
Five candidates for councillor in south-end Halifax came together Monday night for a largely polite debate at Dalhousie University.
The event, organized by the Metro Student Coalition and Our HRM Alliance, brought together the five candidates for District 7 of the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Political science student Mike MacDonell, college instructor Waye Mason, hot dog stand operator DawgFather PHD and accountant Gerry Walsh are all trying to defeat incumbent councillor Sue Uteck.
Much of the criticism was aimed at Uteck, part of a council that has been accused of not listening to the people.
"Councillors need to be available. They need to be listening," Mason told the full house at Dalhousie University's Student Union Building.
"They need to be responsive to the concerns and the interests of the students who live in this district."
Walsh also attacked the perceived lack of accountability in the current council.
"If we were more efficient and more accountable in the way we do things there would be more money available," he said.
Many of the participants asking questions during the debate were students and young people.
"Vote for me because I'm a student, I'm one of you," said MacDonell.
"I understand your needs and I'm ready to address those."
The candidates were asked about the cost of urban sprawl and tax reform, helping students find jobs and accountability on council. There were also questions about controlling the noise level in an area filled with university students.
"I see whole communities now that have welcome barbecues for students that say, 'Go blow your brains out for the first two weeks but you're going to settle down because my kids have to get up to attend Grade 3 in the morning,'" said Uteck.
While some of the candidates said they would quit their regular jobs if they won the seat, DawgFather PHD said he would keep running his hot dog stand and it would double as his councillor's office.
"You elect me and you're going to know I go downtown. I'll be here everyday. and I will tell you the truth. I will not lie to you," he told the crowd.
"That's my main reason for running, is to represent the student issue in this town."
Municipal elections across Nova Scotia take place Oct. 20.