Nova Scotia

Yarmouth has most crowded electoral field of any town in Nova Scotia

Eighteen people are playing musical chairs for the town's six council seats. There are also three mayoralty candidates.

18 people are running for 6 council positions and 3 are vying for mayor

A rainbow creates an archway into Yarmouth. Candidates for next month's election say the town is on an upswing after a rough few years. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

The signs of the times are everywhere in southern Nova Scotia. The residents of one house in Yarmouth are so engaged that placards for at least six different candidates decorate the lawn — outnumbered only by the bird houses.

Eighteen people are vying for six elected positions in the Town of Yarmouth. (Pam Berman/CBC)

Municipalities across the province will be voting next month, and in many communities, candidates are running unopposed.

Not so in Yarmouth — 18 people are playing musical chairs for the town's six council seats. There are also three mayoralty candidates.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm," said Kerry Muise, president of the local Rotary Club. "Things seem to be coming together with our new boat and festivities. It's just been a very vibrant time."

Long list of candidates seen as strength

She says after several tough years, Yarmouth is rebounding. People who had gone west for work are returning east, bringing new ideas and new ambition. The ferry to the U.S. is back and Muise says the lobster fishery is "fabulous" these days.

Yarmouth has the most council candidates of all the towns across Nova Scotia, and Muise believes the long list of possibilities will strengthen Yarmouth.

"Every time you knock on a door and a conversation happens, things are learned," said Muise.

From negative to positive

Four years ago, Yarmouth residents walked by the empty ferry terminal — and plenty of empty shops — on their way to the ballot box. Even Pam Mood, who was elected mayor, said the town was in a "funk."

Now, it's more funky than funk.

"You had a cheerleader when this town absolutely needed it the most," Mood told a recent forum hosted by the Rotary Club. "We heard 90 per cent negative; now we hear 90 per cent positive."

Mood wants to continue as chief cheerleader, but she's facing two challengers for the mayor's chair.

Doris Powell (left), Charles Crosby (centre) and Pam Mood are running for mayor in Yarmouth.

Charles Crosby, who has 37 years of experience as both mayor and town councillor, decided it was time to jump back into municipal politics.

"I think the priorities are not in the right place," said Crosby. "You don't put drapes in the windows when your house needs painting and the roof needs fixing."

Doris Powell also wants the mayor's job. She's originally from the United States and became a summer resident in 2002. She's now a permanent resident.

"I have a different perspective on what could be done here," said Powell. "I see Yarmouth as a diamond in the rough."

The Town of Yarmouth has the largest of number of council candidates of all the towns across Nova Scotia. (Pam Berman/CBC)

Would merging with other towns improve Yarmouth?

One issue the next council will have to handle is if they should amalgamate with nearby municipalities, as many towns have done in Nova Scotia.

Crosby used to oppose the idea, but thinks the time is right now.  

"If Yarmouth is going to go forward, it needs to do it with one voice that includes Argyle and the Municipality of Yarmouth and maybe even Clare," said Crosby.

Mood thinks it needs more study. "The Municipality of Yarmouth is ready to take the next steps to see what it will look like," she said.

Mood pointed out that 27 services are already shared and the Town of Yarmouth only spends seven per cent of its budget on administration. She said that's the lowest amount in the province.

Powell thinks amalgamation could be avoided if Yarmouth comes up with a job creation policy to attract more people.

"It's really up to us, but I feel the clock is ticking," she said.

Yarmouth — and everybody else — goes to the polls Oct. 15.

Yarmouth town council candidates

  • Donald Berry
  • Wade Cleveland
  • Theresa Dalton
  • Gil Dares
  • Madeleine Daues
  • Edward de Grosbois
  • Sandy Dennis
  • Clifford Hood
  • Michael Innis
  • Ronna Jamieson
  • Daniel MacIsaac
  • Jim MacLeod
  • Phillip Mooney
  • Neil Rogers
  • Gillian Rowley
  • John Ryan
  • Michael Tavares
  • David Tupper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

now