SYDNEY MINES, N.S. – Sitting in his garage with family and friends, a long and stressful day ended with cheers and happy tears for Gordon MacDonald.
The Tobin Road resident won election in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s District 1 seat, representing the communities of Sydney Mines, Florence, Little Pond, Alder Point and the neighbourhood of Tobin Road.
The 58-year-old MacDonald received 1,433 votes to his nearest competitor Danny Laffin who received 1,142 votes. Daniel (Duke) Pero counted 883 votes, compared to musician Andrew Doyle’s 795 and Shara Vickers’ 252.
“There’s a lot going through my mind,” laughed MacDonald. “It was a very exciting moment, I’m very proud and happy the residents of District 1 have put their faith in me – I’m going to work very hard of their behalf.”
MacDonald replaces long-time councillor Clarence Prince, who after almost four decades of public service announced in August he wouldn’t be seeking re-election this year.
“I have big shoes to fill,” said MacDonald. “I was about 17-years-old when Clarence was first elected, and I watched him as mayor of Sydney Mines and be elected within CBRM, he’s one of the councillors that I’ve always had a lot of respect for.”
MacDonald, a married father of three children and seven grandchildren, also ran in the 2016 election, finishing second with 41 per cent of the vote, only behind Prince.
He learned quite a bit from his first municipal election, however, admitted this year’s campaign was much different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would have liked to be able to go door-to-door like I did in 2016, but couldn’t do that,” said MacDonald. “It was different because you had to try to get your message out through social media – I like to be hands on and talk to people straight up.”
In his occupation, MacDonald has been working with Canada Post for the past 33 years and is the long-time president of Breton 117 Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
He’s also an executive vice-president with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, and has been for the past 12 years, and is the past president of the Cape Breton District Labour Council.
“I represented the underdog for the last 30 years and I’m going to represent the underdog going forward and I believe that’s who I am and how I feel I’m going to be in council,” said MacDonald, who began volunteering in the community as a Little League coach in 1980.
“I’m a transparent guy and I want to be open with everything and I hope to make some good allies on council.”
Meanwhile, Laffin, who prior to running in the municipal election ran as an independent candidate in the provincial byelection for Northside-Westmount last year, said he’s proud of his team, despite not winning.
“Our team worked very hard in the campaign, we were out there every day and at the same time trying to work as well in our own professions,” said the Little Pond native. “We fought right to the end and we accepted the results.”
As Laffin went door-to-door campaigning, with COVID-19 restrictions in mind, he said he heard lots of concerns from speeding in residential areas to ATVs driving on sidewalks.
“I believe some of the challenges in District 1 is that people are looking for infrastructure projects to be finished, upgraded and repaired,” said Laffin. “There were lots of concerns and I heard them on the door steps.”
Like Laffin, MacDonald is also aware of the concerns of his constituents. He said equalization and the tax cap has to be addressed at the municipal level.
“Each of our individual communities have to be looked at individually so they can feel that their part of CBRM,” said MacDonald. “I hope to bring that back in some capacity in District 1.”
Laffin said he contacted MacDonald immediately after the results were final to congratulate him.
“I wished him well – I’m going to be expecting some big things from Gordon over the next four years,” he said. “He’s going to do well. He’ll do well in that position.”
For now, MacDonald said he’s going to enjoy the win and is prepared to take on the next challenge in his life.
“It’s been a stressful day,” said MacDonald. “I’ve been working to reach this moment since 2016 and I’m pretty pumped up to be able to go to council.”