Local Matters: mayoral candidates
The federal election is likely to grab most headlines over the coming weeks. However, what’s at play at the municipal level is also quite important, and worth keeping an eye on.
For mayor we have a number of candidates, each with distinct skills and ideas.
In alphabetical order:
France Bélisle, a career journalist who was president of Tourism Outaouais for almost five years, is focusing her platform on transparency, including the tramway and ensuring the project delivers the best value for residents. She would focus on revitalizing commercial arteries of downtown Hull and improving the city’s parks and green spaces. She would also give senior citizens more of a voice in their communities.
Rémi Bergeron is an engineer with an MBA and over 20 years experience in public administration throughout various municipalities in Quebec. This is his second run for mayor, and his campaign is focused on public transport, where a tramway would only cross the bridge from Ottawa. Options throughout Gatineau would then include electric Rapibuses as a cost efficient alternative given the rise in remote working.
Jean-François Leblanc, the councillor for district 15, is a computer specialist who launched companies specializing in optimization and management of computer equipment and training. A councillor for over 5 years, Mr. Leblanc blends business knowledge with experience at town hall. He would diversify revenue sources beyond property taxes via industrial development and tourism, improving technical infrastructure such as fibre optics, and reducing administrative burden.
Jacques Lemay is a former firefighter with the rank of captain. He also ran for mayor in 2013, and proposes more direct citizen involvement, easing the process for citizens to interact with the city by having a single contact guide citizens through administrative processes. He would double the budget for infrastructure and reduce the payroll for city employees to compensate, looking to increase private investment.
Maude Marquis-Bissonnette has been councillor for district 4 on the Plateau since 2017 and specializes in public administration, for which she is pursuing a PhD at Carleton University. She would improve public consultations, as well as transition the city towards a low-carbon economy and help residents towards low-carbon lifestyles. She would also focus on making streets more geared towards pedestrians and cyclists.
She is also the only candidate who is a member of a party, Action Gatineau, which is that of the retiring mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.
Action Gatineau will have a strong presence in the next municipal council, with possible acclamations in 6 of the 19 ridings. Winning the mayorship would give the party great leverage to implement its platform. For those who see their own ideas reflected in Action Gatineau’s platform, the next four years could be quite transformative, allowing fairly easy implementation of those policies. Alternatively, we could see a more traditional situation at city hall, with independents building coalitions and agreements to deliver on projects for their local constituents. Things could easily go either way depending on the outcome of the election.
Municipal governments have large impacts on our daily lives, from infrastructure projects to how they develop our neighbourhoods. It’s certainly worth paying attention to.