SPRINGHILL – 44 votes.
That’s all that was needed for Maxwell Snow to beat incumbent mayor Allen Dill to become the new mayor of Springhill.
“In my heart I believe this was more than a municipal election for Springhiller’s who came out to vote,” said Snow at Springhill Town Hall after the final poll came in. “This was a vote for change, and the change is going to start from top to bottom. There’s going to be some adjustments.”
Snow finished with 661 votes to Dill’s 617, while David Wyatt finished a distant third with 34 votes.
In the end 1,312 people voted out of 2,639 eligible voters in Springhill, meaning that 49.72 per cent of the electorate cast a ballot.
Springhill town council will see two new faces. Incumbents Doug Dobson and Jack MacDonald return to their seats on council, while Harold Delaney and Darrell White will inject new blood into council.
Delaney finished with 981 votes, followed by Dobson with 880, White with 854, and MacDonald with 844. Lance Lockwood didn’t make it onto council after finishing with 715 votes.
Snow wants them to work together as a team.
“We want integrity and we want teamwork,” said Snow. “This team has to be about integrity and we have to work with the people and let the people know what’s going on. They are our taxpayers and we have to look after them.”
Snow said there’s going to be more transparency at town hall.
“The secrecy of his place is gone. The secrecy of this place is over,” he said.
Asked if he believes there’s been secrecy at town hall, Snow said, “Big time. Big time.
“You try to get information and you can’t get any information,” he said. “If you try to get information they run you in circles. It’s nothing but circles.”
Snow said he’s not the only one who has been demoralized by town hall. He said he met many people on the campaign trail who told him the exact same thing.
“I’m appalled with what’s going on,” he said. “People are beating themselves up from what’s going on at town hall. Town hall has to be open so that common, ordinary people can come down and sit down and let me know their concerns, regardless of who you are and what class they belong to.
“I find Springhiller’s are down on themselves and that shouldn’t be the way it is. That’s got to stop,” he added. “We have to make Springhill a place that people love to call home. We want people to be proud of being from Springhill.
Snow was a pastor at the Salvation Army for six years and was put in charge of the Salvation Army on-and-off again for another three years after his retirement.
The 69-year-old believes his experience as a pastor is an asset to being mayor and will help him keep his ear to the ground.
“I know the people in this town because I dealt with them on a social level. I didn’t sit in an office and say, ‘this is my office, don’t bother me,’” said Snow. “I was in with the nitty gritty, I was out there. I was with the seniors who had to make a decision to pay their oil, or pay there water taxes or pay their property taxes or buy food. I had to say to them, ‘go pay your property tax, go pay you’re water tax and come to me and I’ll make sure the Good Neighbor Fund looks after you for a while until you get over this difficult situation.’
“It’s not just going up and saying ‘we’re going to cut your water off.’ That’s the wrong way to approach it. It’s better to sit down with people and have dialogue with them. If you have dialogue you have a working relationship with you’re people,” he added. “There’s been no dialogue going on around here for quite a while. I have issues myself about water and nobody wants to do anything about it. The buck is passed and somebody else has to take the blame, and if you say too much you’re a disturber. That’s got to stop. That’s going to end.”
Incumbent mayor Allen Dill was gracious in defeat.
“The people of Springhill have spoken and I respect their decision,” he said.
He congratulated Snow on his win and wished him the best of luck.
He also said he was very proud of the town’s accomplishments during his mandate.
“We had a $400,000 deficit that we eliminated,” said Dill, “And we reduced our long-term debt from $7 million to $5 million.”
He also said the business community showed confidence in the town during his mandate.
Dill said that new business and business expansions included; the new Subway, along with the expansion of Surrette Battery, two expansions of Home Hardware, the expansion of Pharmasave, the expansion of the paint recycling plant and the expansion of the prison.
He was also proud that the town was paying off the water utility deficit.
“This year we had a surplus. It’s the first time in the history of Springhill we had a surplus in the water deficit,” said Dill. “That surplus will go to pay the large deficit we’ve had in the water utility. If we continue on the same path, in 2014-2015, we will have that deficit paid.”
He also said that the town was given the go-ahead to raise residential taxes to $2.65 but raised them to $2.25 instead.
He said he had promised to develop geothermal energy and that was going to be a priority if he was elected again. He said he made headway in that direction on several fronts, including working with Cumberland County and Parrsboro to develop a strategic green energy plan, and lining up three developers to help develop Springhill’s geothermal resource.
He hopes the new mayor works to find people who will exploit the potential of geothermal energy.
One area where Dill takes issue with Snow is with regards to secrecy at town hall.
“We have a new website where we posted all our (council) minutes, and our council meetings are open,” said Dill.
He also said the town posted all it’s budgets for anybody to look at and that he was always available to talk to anybody.
“My office was always open. I was there four or five days a week.”
Dill said he is finished with politics and he will dedicate his time to his family.