Standing on stage between fellow candidates Tom Martin and Aaron Eisses at the Our HRM Alliance Debate on September 19, Steve Mackie looks like a comfortable compromise. Flanked by Martin, all suited up, and Eisses, looking like he's ready for a bike ride, Mackie is wearing casual beige. His opening statement is short and to-the-point: Mackie is new to the political scene, but he loves the city and he cares.
Mackie is certainly fresh. Focusing his platform on urban sprawl and residential development in the downtown core, this comedian-turned-politico says he's got a lot of catching up to do---equal parts educating himself on the issues and on making headway for his campaign.
Mackie joined the race late, just before the deadline of September 11, but he says his decision to run for mayor was far from an impulsive one: "I've been thinking about doing this for two years. It may seem like a whim to people but I've just been procrastinating." In his other life, Mackie works a day job at Bell Aliant and has been doing comedy locally for more than a decade.
Although he makes his living getting laughs from strangers, Mackie says he's hesitant to capitalize on his comedy to help him get ahead in the race. "I could use it, but I want to play it serious and let them know I'm serious candidate," he says.
What makes him a qualified candidate for mayor?
Mackie is running on a platform of residential development on the peninsula and addressing the issue of urban sprawl. This includes the preservation of watersheds and green belts as well as green transportation. "Widening roads is not the answer---we need commuter trains from Sackville to Halifax, but people have dismissed it."
He also wants to ensure that the people in charge are doing what's best for the city, instead of benefitting concert promotors and developers. "You have to decipher between rhetoric and reality," says Mackie.
Even still, Mackie admits he's not the likeliest choice. "I'm not a politician. I'm just looking to be a public servant and trying to be the best I can," he says. "We need somebody to work with council and rein them in." Despite his undeniable lack of experience, he's been working hard.
"I'm almost like a one-man show---I have a day job nine to five, I'm fielding calls all day, doing all my own research. I'm trying to prove that not just people who take a leave of absence or wealthy business owners can do this thing, regular people can get involved in the process."
Mackie's DIY approach to running for office is admirable, if not perhaps the most effective. Unfortunately for everyone---including Mackie---the laughs are few and far between at the debate. Woefully uninformed on some issues, he seems like he can't quite keep up with most of the other candidates, remaining quiet for much of it. He does make one wisecrack during his closing remarks, when he threatens to fire his manager. (He manages himself.)
While Mackie may not have all the necessary qualifications for the city boss job, he's got heart and a sense of humour.
Editor's note: Since the September 19 event, Steve Mackie has failed to show for the next three mayoral debates.See our other mayoral candidate profiles:
Robert (Wesley) McCormack