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Havelock-Belmont-Methuen to elect new mayor for first time in 20 years

Click to play video: 'Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Mayoral Race' Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Mayoral Race
Andy Sharpe and Jim Martin are running for mayor of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen – Sep 28, 2018

One thing that has remained constant in Havelock-Belmont-Methuen since amalgamation in 1998 is the name of the mayor.

Ron Gerow was first elected as mayor in 1998, but has served on council in Havelock, Ont. since the 1980s. Earlier this year, he announced he would not be seeking re-election.

On Oct. 22, residents will elect either Andy Sharpe or Jim Martin as the township’s new mayor.

Sharpe is a self-employed cabinet maker. He has 15 years of municipal government experience and eight years on county council. He has served on the board for Peterborough Public Health for the last four years.

“I’m excited to be a candidate for mayor,” Sharpe said. “Our community is looking for more from our township and I’m ready to focus on some change and lead things forward.”

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Martin has served the last four years as the township’s deputy mayor. He defeated Sharpe in 2014 by a little more than 300 votes for the position. He owns a landscaping business in the community.

I think I have a lot to add to the job (as mayor), Martin said. “I’m a community person and I know what people are looking for. I listen all the time and take a lot of pride in being approachable and listening to people.”

READ MORE: Havelock-Belmont-Methuen receives $187K from feds through MAMP and federal gas tax

Sharpe says he’s hearing about the future of youth as the main issue in this community.

“Many of our young families who are moving here are travelling to other communities to enjoy things that are provided by other communities and they want them here. Like simple splash pads and skateboard ramps,” Sharpe said.

Martin says the township’s communication needs to be fixed. He points to the loss of a community newspaper and a resulting disconnect between residents and council.

“A lot of people are still not into social media, they still like a newspaper. That really hurt us,” Martin said. “Communication needs to be improved. I’ve been looking around at what other councils are doing. I would like to stream our meetings so they can see what we’re doing here.”

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Long-term care has been an issue in this community for a decade — specifically, getting the province to approve a long-term care facility with 128 beds in Havelock.  Earlier this year, then minister of health and long-term care Dr. Eric Hoskins announced the project was approved.

READ MORE: Province backing 128-bed long-term care home in Havelock

“We’re attempting to get that project underway and I think it will come to fruition,” Sharpe said.

“We have a lot of seniors here and we also have a lot of youth here. We need to focus on both in this next term of council,” Martin said. “This long-term care home will have a lot of jobs. Hopefully, a lot of the younger parents can take advantage of this.”

When it comes to economic growth, both candidates pointed to the need for ongoing development in the township.

“This town is really booming right now. Every street is under construction. Industry is doing well. We have a lot of industry around here,” Martin said.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in this township for building new houses. Every new house you build is 6.8 new jobs. It’s a great opportunity to bring employment,” Sharpe said. “Look at Norwood, that’s a good example. Our township is next.”

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READ MORE: Havelock to start its own farmers’ market

Havelock-Belmont-Methuen is home to 10 lakes. In the summer, the population booms with cottagers.

“We’re fortunate to have the lakes in our township and the waterfront residents who come here,” Sharpe said. “We need to ensure our water quality is good there. I hope the next council takes as a priority.”

“It stems back to communication. They say, ‘What do I get for my tax dollar?'” Martin said. “We need to explain it better. They pay a huge part of the tax bill here. If they knew where the money was going, it will make it easier for council to work with them.”

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