Mulgrave special election: candidates discuss experience, concerns and moving forward

·4 min read

MULGRAVE – Town of Mulgrave residents are invited to head to the poll in the town office to cast a vote in a special election on Saturday, July 30, to fill the council seat left vacant when Councillor Crystal Durling resigned in May.

Three Mulgrave residents, all born and raised in the community, have put their names forward for the council seat: Debbie King, Trevor Decoste and Amber Lee Carrigan. The Journal spoke to all the candidates about their campaigns and the future of Mulgrave last week.

None of the candidates have ever held or run for public office, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable experience.

King only recently retired from a 42-year career at the town office, a position that has given her in-depth knowledge of the operation of the town and the issues that it faces.

Carrigan attends council meetings regularly and sits on numerous volunteer committees.

Decoste has also taken an interest in council business and is a life-long volunteer in many organizations, experience he believes will be useful to council.

All of them have a passion for the town and a vision of a prosperous future for the seaside community.

Each candidate was asked to identify what they believe is the most important issue facing Mulgrave.

Carrigan responded: “Roads. Roads are quite bad here in town. It’s a small town, it’s hard to keep up with all of the little streets, but I do have to say that Mulgrave is quite good, trying to get the roads done as we can.”

She added that another major issue is housing. “Just like anywhere else, we don’t have the housing for families that need the housing.”

Promotion of the town and its potential for growth was on the top of King’s list.

“We have so many resources at hand, and I believe, as a council, we should be promoting the town and what we have. In promoting it, we may get some people to come to the town that may be interested in opening a store or may be interested in tourism…. If we are not promoting the town, then people don’t know what we do have,” she said.

Decoste pointed to demographics, including the town’s aging population.

“Seniors are being forgotten with COVID and such; I think we need to help the seniors more,” he said.

“I would like to try and entice the younger crowd. Mulgrave is a great bedroom community and I think we need to spend a little time in trying to entice some new people.”

On the campaign trail, the candidates are hearing a wide variety of comments and concerns from residents.

King said she’s heard common concerns about maintaining and developing infrastructure, housing, the marina in McNair’s Cove and the need for a nurse practitioner.

After the town examined the idea of amalgamation with nearby municipal units in 2018, King said people have told her, “They definitely want to keep town status.”

King also said people are happy living in the town, a comment that Decoste said he has also heard when knocking on doors.

“I don’t hear a lot of problems, that’s a good thing,” said Decoste.

What Decoste has heard from residents are concerns about the volunteer fire department.

“I have a vast knowledge in fire departments and emergency services. I’d like to do what I can to find out why there is a lack of volunteers and try and help the fire department get some new, younger members.”

Decoste also noted that policing has come up when he’s campaigning door-to-door. “We are paying a lot of money for policing and we’re not seeing a great presence in town; they’re there but not as much as we would like to see them.”

Safety is something Carrigan has been hearing about, whether it’s related to the remnants of the former wharf in McNair’s Cove, or the lack of shade in the nearby park. But these are points of concern that Carrigan and other community members are working to rectify.

People are also concerned about their annual tax and water bills, but Carrigan said, “If we can bring Mulgrave up and bring in more revenue, it will help that on the other end.”

To conclude, Decoste said, “I’ve worked all around the world. I’ve seen many little towns and this one is a true gem. Mulgrave thrived years ago, and I think we can bring it back.”

King said, “Generally, I would like to see the town flourish and grow. And, being retired, I now have the time to put towards it.”

Carrigan concluded, “I know the concerns … and I want to be a part of the change.”

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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