Nova Scotia

Meet the Halifax Regional Municipality's 5 new councillors

A slate of fresh faces elected during Saturday's municipal election in Halifax share their thoughts about the campaign and what changes they would like implemented.

New councillors are Sam Austin, Lisa Blackburn, Shawn Cleary, Lindell Smith and Richard Zurawski

From left to right, some of the new faces on HRM council are Richard Zurawski (District 12), Shawn Cleary (District 9), Sam Austin (District 5) and Lindell Smith (District 8). District 14 also has a new councillor, Lisa Blackburn, who is not pictured. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

A slate of fresh faces elected during Saturday's municipal election will be joining Halifax Regional Municipal council.

Five newbies won seats — urban planner Sam Austin, journalist Lisa Blackburn, professor Shawn Cleary, community activist Lindell Smith and meteorologist Richard Zurawski.

The five mused about the campaign, controversies and changes they want to see in the city on CBC Radio's Mainstreet on Monday. (Blackburn joined the conversation by phone, while the four men were in studio.) Here's some of what they had to say.

Sam Austin

Sam Austin is the new councillor in District 5, Dartmouth Centre. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Austin replaces long-time councillor, Gloria McCluskey, who retired in District 5, Dartmouth Centre. He topped the crowded race, which included Tim Rissesco and Kate Watson.

What he hopes he can bring as an urban planner: "There's a lot going on in Dartmouth these days. You've got some new energy, new life coming into the community in places like Portland Street. You've got a lot of issues of development going on there. So I think in Dartmouth, the idea of having an urban planner on council is one of those things that really kind of resonated out there on the doorstep."

On the learning curve ahead: "I think it will be both the most challenging and the most rewarding experience any of us has had."

Lisa Blackburn

Lisa Blackburn beat incumbent, Brad Johns, in District 14, Middle/Upper Sackville—Beaver Bank—Lucasville. (Submitted by Lisa Blackburn)

Blackburn beat out incumbent Brad Johns by about 50 votes in District 14, Middle/Upper Sackville—Beaver Bank—Lucasville, according to unofficial results.

Why she thinks she beat Johns: "I think there was a very strong desire for change in the district and it was reflected in the increased voter turnout in District 14."

How she feels about the reduced female representation on council, which dropped from four councillors to two: "It's disappointing to say the least. Certainly, it would be wonderful to have a council that more accurately reflected the background of the city that we live in. It is disappointing that we're losing some women. It just means that Lorelei Nicoll and I have to make sure we speak a little louder to make sure our voices are heard."

Nicoll was acclaimed in District 4, Cole Harbour—Westphal.

Shawn Cleary

Shawn Cleary beat Linda Mosher in District 9, Halifax West Armdale. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Cleary unseated long-serving incumbent Linda Mosher in a tight race in District 9, Halifax West Armdale. About 100 votes separated the two. At one point during the evening, just two votes separated the candidates, a moment Cleary called "gut-wrenching."

Why he thinks he beat Mosher: "Just hard work, I think. Knocking on thousands and thousands and thousands of doors. I think District 9 was ready for a change. Fresh face, fresh ideas is what I heard on the doorstep and a lot of the issues that I was talking about seemed to resonate."

His thoughts on the domain name debacle"Her buying my domain name gave me a full week's worth of national media attention, which I'm sure that wasn't her original intention in buying them, but that kick-started our campaign and put me on a level playing field with her ... as I knocked on doors in August, September, October, people still brought it up occasionally."

Lindell Smith

Lindell Smith won in District 8, Halifax Peninsula North. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Lindell Smith beat out a long list of competitors in District 8, Halifax Peninsula North. Smith dominated with 52 per cent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

What people thought of his campaign for diversity: "At the beginning, it definitely was the main topic of discussion that we need to see more diversity on council ... because council didn't have that diverse look of what our city actually was."

Where his slogan "It's Time" came from: "[It] really came from the residents because they felt it was time to see change in the council ... it's time to just see some different things happen for our city."

Meet Lindell Smith, Halifax's first black councillor in 16 years

5 years ago
Smith is the first African Nova Scotian elected to city council in 16 years. 6:33

Richard Zurawski

Richard Zurawski will represent District 12, Timberlea—Beechville—Clayton Park—Wedgewood. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Zurawski is the new councillor in District 12, Timberlea—Beechville—Clayton Park—Wedgewood, where he will replace retiring councillor Reg Rankin.

What he was hearing on the doorstep: "The big thing for us in District 12 is the Blue Mountain Birch Cove wilderness area. That needs to be protected. And of course, there was a big push on by just about everybody in the HRM to make council aware that that was a major issue. Development issues, transportation issues."

His thoughts on the campaign: "It's just absolutely exhausting. I have to say, without my wife helping me and pushing me, the last couple of weeks, I felt like I was running a marathon that just never ended."

With files from CBC Radio's Mainstreet


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