ST. MARY’S – Teacher and political newcomer Charlene Zinck won District 2 (Ecum Secum and Area) in Saturday’s municipal election, defeating incumbent and long-serving St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher by a margin of more than two-to-one.
According to the unofficial poll results, Zinck earned 115 votes, compared with Mosher’s 49, in the only contested district in St. Mary’s. Council positions for districts 1, 3/5, 4, 6, 8 and the local spot for Conseil scolaire acadien provincial had been filled earlier by acclamation.
Reached for comment, Zinck – a pre-primary teacher at St. Mary’s Education Centre with a background in Early Childhood Education, business administration and small business management – told The Journal: “My major priority going forward is to listen to the people of this area and address their needs and concerns. The relationship between the council and residents of the municipality needs to be rebuilt and strengthened. A lot of issues have fallen to the wayside and they need to be brought back to the forefront.”
Specifically, she said, “some major issues I see before me are connectivity (cellular, landlines and Internet), economic growth and development, upgrades to emergency services, recreation for all ages, and our secondary roads,” adding: “In regards to social development, I think we can always do better; there is always room to learn, evolve as a society.”
Zinck also said she believes council meetings should be recorded to ensure public access to the decision-making process. “I feel meetings should be recorded for members of the public. We are there working for them, so everything should be transparent and open.”
One of her first orders of business when council resumes regular meetings on October 28, she said, will be to address poor cellular service across the municipality. “With many dead zones in the areas east of Sheet Harbour to Sherbrooke, if an emergency situation were to happen away from the home, chances are you will not have the ability to call 911 from your cell phone. On the other side of this, our fire services are mainly volunteer based. Without cell service, those calls will not go through to the volunteers with those fire phones, the people we need in that emergency situation.”
Zinck noted she received “overwhelming support, not only from the people of District 2, but from residents of the entire municipality” during her election campaign. “I made phone calls and had many socially distanced visits with the people of this area,” she said. “I felt it was necessary for them to put a face to a name and have those conversations…The people I talked to felt this area was overlooked and had become a bit forgotten about. They seemed ready for a fresh perspective and a big change.”
Reached for comment, Mosher – who was first elected as the district’s councillor in 2004 and selected as the municipality’s warden in 2014 – said: “I would like to wish Charlene and the rest of St. Mary’s Council the very best in the future.”
According to the unofficial results, Zinck received 97 votes by electronic means, 12 from advance polls and six from the “ordinary” one. That compared with Mosher’s 42 (electronic), three (advance), and four (ordinary).
In addition to Zinck, St. Mary’s new municipal council includes: acclaimed newcomers Courtney Mailman (District 1), Greg Wier (District 3/5), and James Fuller (District 6); and acclaimed incumbents Beulah Malloy (District 4), Everett Baker (District 7), and Peggy Kaiser-Kirk (District 8). Acclaimed incumbent Alfred Benoit resumes as Conseil scolaire acadien provincial representative for the municipality.