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- Councillor Barry Dalrymple, decked out in an Elect Cathy Deagle-Gammon t-shirt and pictured here during the Gold Rush Days parade in September next to some people dressed as zombies.
An outgoing councillor’s endorsement can help or hinder a candidate’s chances of getting elected, depending on who the councillor is.
As he leaves behind municipal politics, Waverley–Fall River–Musquodoboit Valley councillor Barry Dalrymple is publicly endorsing Cathy Deagle-Gammon in the race for District 1. That could be seen as an unfair advantage, but it really comes down to how you feel about Dalrymple’s term in office.
“Some people who think he’s done a great job think that’s good,” says Deagle-Gammon. “There are other people who haven’t liked what Barry’s done.”
Out of the four municipal councillors not re-offering in this election, only Dalrymple has been openly campaigning for his potential replacement, including appearing at public events in an ‘Elect Cathy’ t-shirt. Deagle-Gammon says she believes Dalrymple has also donated to her campaign. The councillor himself didn’t get back to us.
Politicians endorsing other politicians is common, but a retiring municipal councillor coming out in support of a successor is a bit more unorthodox. That’s what Steve Streatch thinks, anyway. Streatch is one of Deagle-Gammon’s opponents in District 1, a former HRM councillor and the man Dalrymple defeated in 2012’s election.
“I’m not so sure it is the right [thing] to do, to be publicly endorsing,” Streatch says. “I’m not so sure it is welcomed in the community.”
Over in District 12, retiring councillor Reg Rankin says he isn’t picking favourites and “can work with” any of the six names on the ballot to replace him. Both Jennifer Watts in Halifax Peninsula North and Gloria McCluskey in Dartmouth Centre have also refused to endorse any candidates.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” says McCluskey. “I would think that if I went out on the doors for a candidate, that candidate’s going to win.”
McCluskey has signed off on endorsing Mike Savage for another term as mayor, but says she’s donated no money nor attended campaign events for any of the eight candidates on the ballot in District 5. It’s simply not how she thinks someone should win.
“I think every candidate should get out and do the same I did and knock on the doors,” she says. “That’s the way it should be. When I ran, I didn’t ask for endorsements from anyone.”
The advantages that a Gloria McCluskey or an Ellen Page can bring to a campaign, is one thing. Councillors and celebrities aside, there are also plenty of party politicians (or former politicians) creeping down to endorse candidates at the municipal level this election.
“Municipally, it’s supposed to be non-partisan,” says Deagle-Gammon. “That’s my biggest lesson in all this. I thought [that influence] would be less so.”
Streatch comes from a well-known Conservative family, but he maintains those party politics aren’t influencing his latest council run.
“I don’t have any public endorsements, but I do have people working hard for me that come from all three parties,” says Streatch, who remains unconcerned about the influences political endorsements as this election enters the homestretch.
“I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to what Cathy’s campaign has been doing, or to what Barry’s been doing,” he says. “How that’s going to work out for her, I really have no idea. I’ve been focused on my campaign.”
Along with Dalrymple's support for Deagle-Gammon, former NDP member of parliament Peter Stoffer is endorsing Trevor Lawson in District 1, and Lisa Blackburn in District 14. His fellow former NDP MP Megan Leslie has come out in support of Lindell Smith in Peninsula North. Ex-MLA Maureen MacDonald is also supporting Smith, along with Waye Mason in District 7. Meanwhile, Mike Savage has an entire caucus of political supporters in his re-election campaign, including Liberal MP (and former councillor) Darren Fisher, MLAs Brendan Maguire, Joanne Bernard and Dave Wilson and the aforementioned Stoffer.