Four candidates seeking District 1 county seat

Staff (The Citizen-Record)
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AMHERST - Gerald Read may have 21 straight years on Cumberland County council, but there are at least three people planning on ending that streak.

Edith Helm, Don Smith and Marilyn Thompson will join Read on the ballot on Oct. 20, making for what could be the county's tightest race on election night.

Helm, a longtime realtor and Fort Lawrence resident, said she feels more needs to be done to help the area's growing senior population.

"A lot of seniors want to stay in their homes but it's getting very difficult for them to do that," Helm said. "I saw some of the challenges seniors face up close and I want to do something to make things better so they can live in their homes longer."

Helm said the county could work with the province to help seniors by reviewing resources available to seniors and could assist community partners such as the Rotary Club to raise awareness about programs such as Lifeline.

First elected in 1991, Read, a retired farmer and businessman, said he's looking forward to representing the people of his district for four more years.

"I've been on municipal council for 21 years and I'm looking ahead to the election in hopes of being re-elected," said Read, who is a former warden of the county. "I believe we have come a long way as a municipality, but I also believe there's a lot more work to be done."

Looking back at his time on council, Read said the county has accomplished a lot including a modern landfill in Little Forks and a top-notch composting and recycling facility that has made Cumberland County the envy of other municipalities.

Smith, a local businessperson, said he has been active in his community for many years, and is interested in improving the area where he has worked and raised his children.

"I think it's time for a new vision," said Smith. "I want to push working with communities - the other towns. I know all the mayors personally, the CAOs and the different councils, and I think it's time we get some shared services going to help reduce taxes. We don't need five payrolls when one office can do for everyone."

Smith's activities have included serving on the Cumberland RDA board, 4H, the Royal Canadian Legion, and coaching little league and hockey. He has also been involved with the Good Lookin'/Better Lookin' Guys annual curling bonspiel that has raised $75,000 for local charities.

"What's good for one area is going to be good for all other areas," he said. "We have all the infrastructure now. We have all the new schools, all the new hospitals... now we just need people to use them."

Thompson, who has served on the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board for 15 years, is hoping to trade the school board for municipal council.

"I have worked hard to serve the students and the community here and across the region. We have new schools in Amherst and area, Oxford and started additions and alterations in Springhill and River Hebert," she said. "There is much more to be done once the government approves the funding to complete Springhill Junior-Senior High and River Hebert school. West Highlands Elementary is also on the capital construction list for a new school."

Thompson said the biggest challenge is to maintain the excellent programs and keep education at a level of excellence students deserve. Having been on the board since 1997, she said, she has seen how all three provincial parties view the importance of the young people.

Organizations: Cumberland County council, Rotary Club, Cumberland RDA board Royal Canadian Legion Central Regional School Board River Hebert school

Geographic location: AMHERST, Fort Lawrence, Little Forks Cumberland County Chignecto Oxford Springhill River Hebert

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