Mayoral candidates in Windsor-West Hants trying to keep it positive

Candidates running for mayor of the newly created Region of Windsor-West Hants Municipality are talking about having a positive campaign even though it got off to a negative start.

The Town of Windsor and the Municipality of the District of West Hants will cease to exist on April 1. There will be a new municipal unit with 11 districts and a mayor.

The election is March 7. Nominations closed on Wednesday.

Jennifer Daniels, Jim White and Abraham Zebian are running for mayor.

Daniels has been a West Hants councillor since 2012 and White is a retired lawyer who lives in Windsor. Zebian has been warden of West Hants since 2016.

White suspended in 2015

White was suspended for a month in 2015 by the Barrister's Society of Nova Scotia for professional misconduct for the way he handled money in his law practice.

An investigation found he took cash payments and failed to pay taxes on them. White was also cited for mishandling a friend's estate and being in a conflict of interest.

In January, White posted a video message on his Facebook site saying he had been "hoping for a positive campaign" but had heard his suspension was being discussed on social media.

In addressing the issue, White said his wife was dying of ALS at the time and he became "distracted" when an employee committed fraud. He went on to say that it was the only suspension of a 40-year career.

In its 2015 decision, the barrister's society said stress does not excuse unethical behaviour.

Meanwhile, Zebian's election signs have been damaged and defaced. In an interview, Zebian said "it may have been done by kids."

Abraham Zebian

But on Facebook, Zebian stated: "To any of my competitors or their supporters, I will be running a clean campaign … I urge all running for office to do the same."

Small pockets of negativity

Daniels said the campaign has gone well for the most part but admitted there were small pockets of negativity on social media. She condemned the vandalism involving the signs.

"We should not have that in local politics, in local government, there's no need for it," said Daniels.

The Avon Chamber of Commerce is hosting a mayoral debate at the King's-Edgehill School on Feb. 20.

Municipal officials have set a target of a 55 per cent voter turnout.

In 2016, the voter turnout was 39 per cent for West Hants and Windsor was 51 per cent, up from 37 per cent in 2012.

Councillors for District 1, 10 and 11 have been acclaimed.

The new council will not have to campaign again in October when the rest of Nova Scotia's municipalities go to the polls. It will remain in place until 2024.