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Summerside mayor Bill Martin bids adieu to council chambers, mayor's chair

Bill Martin, outgoing Summerside Mayor, has made the mayor’s office a home over the past four years. Now he’s preparing to leave the office for a final time before incoming Mayor Basil Stewart takes office.
Bill Martin, outgoing Summerside Mayor, has made the mayor’s office a home over the past four years. Now he’s preparing to leave the office for a final time before incoming Mayor Basil Stewart takes office. - Millicent McKay

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - It’s a lengthy trek to the mayor’s office at Summerside City Hall, but it was one Bill Martin welcomed.

"Do you know how many times I've walked up those 40 stairs over these four years?" asked Martin, the City of Summerside's outgoing mayor.

On Monday, incoming mayor Basil Stewart and his accompanying council members were sworn into office, though they won't officially take over until Friday.

"It's surreal to walk into this building and know that I won't be in [the mayor's] office anymore," said Martin.

Lisa Langdale, who's been the executive assistant to the CAO for the past five months, said Martin will be missed.

"Every morning I ask, 'How are you today?' and every time he replies, 'Great!' In just the short time I've been here his presence has added to the atmosphere in the building.

"He has a really big heart and it seems like he genuinely wants what is best for the city and its residents. I'm going to miss him."

Martin was elected mayor in 2014, running on a campaign of a one-term mandate, debt management, youth engagement and transparency.

"I'm going to miss it. But one term – those were my terms. I campaigned on that. It feels good that I stuck to that and we..." he paused to emphasize 'we', "We accomplished a lot." 

"I wanted to be as accessible as I could. I always personally answered my phone, I made my number public and kept my door open."
-Bill Martin

Martin said the changes the council has made in the last four years will have lasting ramifications and effects.

"Our governance structure has changed to allow committee of council meetings, which gives councillors, policy consultants and the citizens an opportunity to discuss, debate and refine policies.

"We also formed the Governance, Policy and Strategy (GPS) committee, which always took recommendations for council and did the research so we had the most information before we made a decision."

Those two changes are some of the things of which Martin is most proud.

"GPS dealt with 19 major pieces of policy in four years, starting with our promise for transparency."

In addition, Martin lists debt reduction, solar energy resources at Credit Union Place and multiple downtown businesses opening as successes. But there are two things he would have liked to have seen accomplished during his term.

"The first being the purchase of the land on Greenwood Drive, which would allow for a new industrial park. And the second being the purchase of the generator, which would allow the city electrical independence."

His favourite thing has been acting as a spokesperson for the city.

"It's something I took seriously and viewed as an important role. I wanted to be as accessible as I could. I always personally answered my phone, I made my number public and kept my door open."

Brian Hawrylak, the city’s human resources officer, has worked for the City of Summerside for 18 years. When Martin was elected, it was his first experience with a new mayor.

"Whenever there is a new change over, there's a learning curve to be had. But Bill put the time and effort in to learn as much as he could as fast as he could," Hawrylak said. "He became well-versed with the concerns of residents and he's done a great job. He's been fair and hasn't been afraid to make difficult decisions."

Twitter: @JPMillicentMcK
Instagram: @millicentleemckay

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