It is quite hard to believe it has been four years since I was sworn in as Mayor.
I remember very well the feelings of excitement and apprehension I had in the early days of Council. The excitement of taking on a new challenge, anxious to get moving, coupled with the apprehension of having to manage Council meetings and learn all the things about our Administration. As I meet the new Members of Council I sense similar emotions from them.
I was not sworn in with the team on November 1 as I am away at meetings of the World Energy Cities Partnership. But I know it was a wonderful occasion for the returning members and particularly for the new members. Looking at the new group it would be hard not to see the passion and energy that comes from new members of a team. Clearly this is a younger Council than the previous one. I was younger than the average age of the last team, older than the average age of this Council by a number of years.
I am very keen to see where we go. I have my own ideas and look forward to understanding the direction of others. It will be a cool ride.
Four years ago I came to office with a reform agenda of my own. Change was in the air after some years of what I saw as drift, lax financial management, and non-collegial governance. We had a relatively new CAO with a mandate to tighten our financial processes and bring efficiency to our affairs.
Four years later I am quite impressed by the transformation that is taking place in HRM, partly due to the diligence and progressive leadership of Council. We have strong economic growth, a strong working relationship among Council, and a greener, more inclusive municipality. We have adopted our revised Regional Plan, introduced a comprehensive Economic Growth Plan, and are ready for a new Integrated Mobility Plan. Our downtowns are undergoing a revival and we are investing in protecting green spaces.
Some think we are moving too quickly, some think we’re moving too slowly. This is not new. We need to be able to accept different points of view; it makes us better.
Our new Council consists of four acclaimed Council members, four who were elected in seats vacated by retiring members, six re-elected and two who defeated incumbents. And me.
Every election is, to some extent, a referendum on the incumbents. To stand for election is a statement of having something to offer. Those of us who served on the last Council must understand that new members will be looking to make some changes, things on which they campaigned. New members should keep in mind that there will be some areas where we are in fact further ahead than they might have realized during the campaign. The dynamic of Council will be interesting.
When I was first elected and came to meet staff and see the complex workings of HRM I was more impressed than I expected to be by the professionalism and the commitment to following Council direction that I saw on a daily basis. I remember Reg Rankin, my first Deputy Mayor, wryly noting:
"It’s kind of inconvenient to see that things aren't as bad as you hope they are when you run."
I think our municipality is well positioned for further success and I am excited to chart the course for our next chapter. I wish our former colleagues the best and thank them all for their contributions to our community. And I look forward to working with our new Council. Let's get started!