Mel Vincent Jr. seeks mayor's job in Saint John.

·4 min read
Mel Vincent Jr. said he has stood at the podium in front of the council chamber on many occasions, fighting for projects he believes in.  (Mel Vincent/Facebook page - image credit)
Mel Vincent Jr. said he has stood at the podium in front of the council chamber on many occasions, fighting for projects he believes in. (Mel Vincent/Facebook page - image credit)

Mel Vincent Jr. says he grew up in a family where serving in public office was considered an honourable calling and a way of "paying societal debt."

Now, he's looking to follow in the steps of his late father Mel Vincent Sr., Saint John's longest serving city councillor, with 30 years in council chambers.

"It's time for me to give back," he said.

Vincent Jr. is born and raised in Saint John, and is a home builder and real estate broker.

He studied political science at the University of New Brunswick and worked at Enterprise Saint John for a year in immigration. He has also been involved with Develop Saint John.

He said he has stood at the podium in front of the council members on many occasions.

"I fought and argued for the projects that I believed in," he said.

"You know, sitting at the horseshoe might be the easy side of the table, but to work with the staff and the planning and inspection departments on the projects that I've worked with and for the city has given me a unique perspective that few people have."

In terms of competing for the mayor's seat against two-term councillor Donna Reardon, he said he's coming in as a "newbie" but also has a lot of experience.

"I think obviously sitting there has some unique perspectives, but it also comes with some baggage, too, being responsible for the time that you sat there and the decisions that you've made."

Vincent Jr. said the biggest issues he wants to tackle if elected are growing the population, the economy and the tax base, and improving the community's recreation infrastructure.

"As an extremely competitive person, sitting in number two, frankly, does not sit well with me. And we're not far from sitting on number three," he said, referencing Saint John's population compared to the province's other cities.

He said he wants to sell Saint John to the world.

"Working at Enterprise Saint John immigration and listening to people who could go almost anywhere in this world tell me how great this city is, we need to become a more positive city," he said.

"There's no reason why anybody wouldn't want to live here."

He said there's an asset in the development community in Saint John.

He also said it's important to reduce poverty and tackle affordable housing, where he sees private ownership as a path to reduction.

"It's sad to walk through the City Market today, see no people and see a lot of empty stalls" - Mayor candidate Mel Vincent Jr.

Vincent Jr. said the tax formula that exists right now isn't fair.

"One of the unique advantages I have, I don't have to introduce myself to people in Fredericton who are making these decisions, they know who I am today."

"The minister responsible and I have already began some talks and I'm looking forward to working with him [so] that we can make Saint John the city that it can be with a fair share of the tax that we're contributing already to the province. We just need more of it back."

All levels of government, especially the municipality, he said, needs to be more engaged with Saint John's business community, especially during the pandemic.

He said the home building sector has plenty of business, but has faced challenges getting supplies, while restaurants can't turn their tables fast enough because of diminished capacity, but expenses haven't change.

"It's a sector that needs a great deal of help, the community I think has been very supportive."

He said Saint John needs to be out in front dealing with the cruise ship business to make sure that it comes back as soon as it's safe.

"It's sad to walk through the City Market today, see no people and see a lot of empty stalls," he said.

Rather than "going back to normal", he said he's confident that Saint John will go to a better place as it recovers from the pandemic.

"As a business person, I know the passion and hunger that people have. I think the immigration community is entrepreneurial at levels that we don't see often."