2020-09-02

Bridgewater’s mayor seeks second term

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>David Mitchell, pictured, seeks re-election as Bridgewater&#8217;s chief magistrate.</p>

Bridgewater's mayor is seeking a second term leading the town's civic government with the aim of continuing a focus on energy efficiency programs, the transformation of the industrial park, and upgrades to wastewater infrastructure.

"This bigger picture with all the moving pieces is what will make Bridgewater a strong, vibrant community with sustainable employment, economy, environment, and a positive and inclusive social fabric for generations to come," David Mitchell said in a social media post announcing his candidacy. "This work has just begun and I'm passionate ... about seeing these things, and more, completed."

Mitchell, 47, feels the town has turned the page during his first term. "With your support, I hope to continue to help steer this community into a place people are proud to call home," he said online. "We are in charge of our own amazing story, and I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of Bridgewater's next chapter."

Events during the 2016-2020 term of Bridgewater Town Council cast a positive light on the co-called Main Street of the South Shore.

The $5 million Smart Cities Challenge prize from a contest run by the federal government complemented the town's Energize Bridgewater program and is expected to accelerate energy poverty reduction work.

Public transit became a permanent service after running as a test project.

Mitchell lived-up to a 2016 campaign promise to work with council to cut the commercial tax rate; it went down two cents in 2017 and remained at the same level through 2020.

Sewer tax rates continue to rise each year, however, as Mitchell told LighthouseNOW recently, there's "no choice" but to pay for federally-mandated wastewater work that has a 2032 deadline attached.

When he ran for chief magistrate the first time, Mitchell told a candidate forum, "I don't believe the town's in any position to be taking on any more debt." Nonetheless, Bridgewater's debt and debt servicing costs are expected to rise over the next few years, aided by increased spending toward a new highway interchange. Construction is expected to start next year. That project "will pay dividends for the town and increase the base that will pay that debt down," Mitchell anticipates.

There are other items on the front-burner continuing to be works in progress.

The former arena Mitchell said in 2016 he hoped would be "turned into something that generates some tax revenue" is a home for the transit bus, town-owned storage and farmers' market. The idea it may be converted one day into a performing arts centre "is still on the table," Mitchell told LighthouseNOW. He indicated restrictions related to existing infrastructure in the area made for fewer options for the Empire Street site.

Early in his first mandate, Mitchell's political tone toward spending on the town-owned DesBrisay Museum netted some criticism. He said he "could have handled [the issue] better," and actually later apologized during the organization's annual meeting.

Meanwhile, he's adamant financial reasons - specifically, the 70 per cent increase in mayoral pay that comes into force after this fall's municipal elections - are not behind his re-election bid.

"I think the remuneration the committee came up with is fair," Mitchell said of the citizen's group that put forth the council and mayor salary recommendations. The current mandate of council agreed to the new terms, which sees the mayor's salary grow to $62,300 from $36,525. The deputy mayor will earn $36,700 instead of $23,560, and councillors will take in $25,000 rather than $20,230.

"I don't think anyone enters municipal politics for the paycheck," said Mitchell, who is an information technology trainer employed at a financial institution. "My decision to run is based on my love for this community and wanting to continue to serve it for the next four years," he insisted.

Municipal elections in Nova Scotia take place October 17.

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