NEW SALEM - Common sense approach.
Those are the three words Don Fletcher is using to describe his campaign for the District 10 seat on Cumberland County council. A byelection will be held to fill the seat vacated by the death of longtime councillor Ratchford Merriam on Feb. 16.
“I’m interested in the community, and jobs, and trying to keep people in the area,” said Fletcher. “I’m retired from the military, so I have the time to donate to it.”
Time is one thing Fletcher has been generous with since retiring back to his family homestead in New Salem in 1996. He soon found himself volunteering with the Advocate District Development Association, the Cape Chignecto Provincial Park management board, and the Bayview Communities Health Foundation, and served as chairman of all of those groups.
He also became involved with local snowmobiling and ATV groups.
His work in the community saw Fletcher build up contacts within the Cumberland Health Authority, and political representatives such as Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie and Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong, and their predecessors, Murray Scott and Bill Casey.
“I sort of became a go-to person, if people needed something,” he said.
Over the years, Fletcher said people approached him with the idea of running for county council. He admits he was interested.
“One time I was visiting Vic Corbin, right before he passed away, and he told me the one thing he wished he would have done is run for council,” he recalled. “Because he was always involved with the hospital and stuff. And that always stuck with me.”
Fletcher considered running in the 2008 election, but chose not to oppose Merriam. Prior to the recent election, he visited Merriam at his home and asked if he was going to run again.
“He said he was, so I decided not to run,” he said.
With Merriam’s passing soon after the Oct. 20 election, Fletcher said people again asked him if he was going to run, and this time he accepted the challenge.
“I just want to be the voice of the people, and I’m going to go around campaigning,” said Fletcher. “I’m going to talk to people, whatever the issues... anything I can put a voice to and take to council. I understand I’m one of 10 and I’m not going to get everything I want, and neither is anyone else.”
Early talk is that Fletcher will not be alone on the ballot, with several other candidates rumoured to be in the running.