AMHERST – When Dr. David Kogon was swept into the mayor’s office last year, he said he was given an agenda for change at Amherst’s town hall.
A year after that huge election win, Kogon is still working to engineer that change – even if it’s going a little slower than he hoped.
“There’s still an optimism and positive attitude around town that wasn’t there when I was campaigning,” Kogon said. “I'm not saying this council gets all the credit for that, but it’s there. You can feel it and it’s going to help everything grow and develop.”
Kogon said Victoria Faire and Dayle’s Grand Market are examples of the good things taking place downtown and the renewed optimism among business leaders in the community.
When Kogon was elected, winning the mayor’s seat by nearly 1,000 over George Baker, he led a council that had only one returning member in Terry Rhindress. He said the new team has worked well together during the last year and remains focused on change.
“It’s been a good year and we’ve been working to develop a whole new rapport amongst ourselves and with the staff,” Kogon said. “It has come along nicely. We have a very engaged group. I would have liked things to move along faster, but things do take time and we’re still headed in the direction we want to go.”
At the same time, Kogon and his council have reached out to other municipalities in the region to try to remove any barriers that prevented inter-municipal co-operation from taking place.
Kogon has held several meetings already with Oxford Mayor Trish Stewart and Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis and there have been several joint council meetings. That spirit of co-operation has also been extended across the border to Sackville, N.B.
“Things have been very positive when you think about the long history of that co-operation not being there,” Kogon said. “I’m proud and happy to say that has begun. It has taken time and it’s going to grow and develop, but the door has been open.”
He’s also happy with the rapport that has been developed with MP Bill Casey, former MP Terry Farrell and new Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin.
One example of increased co-operation was a recent meeting between Sackville Mayor John Higham, Kogon, Gillis and federal MPs Bill Casey and Dominic LeBlanc to talk about rising sea levels and their potential impact on key infrastructure such as the rail line and the Trans-Canada Highway.