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Mayor Myra: Board of Trade President Jamie Myra voted next Mayor of the Town of Lunenburg



(Jamie Myra with his mother, Judy Myra, in July. Photo: Myra ForMayor, Facebook)

Jamie Myra will be the next Mayor of the Town of Lunenburg.

Lunenburg Board of Trade President Myra won the special by-election Mayoral race over Lunenburg Yacht Club General Manager Gale Fullerton. 

In results released by the Town of Lunenburg Saturday evening, Myra received 811 votes and Fullerton 377. 

Out of all eligible voters, 1,188 out of 2,021 – or 59 per cent – voted. Voter turnout in the 2020 general election was 64.1 per cent. Voting was conducted online and by phone with early voting beginning August 3 and support provided by the Town of Lunenburg for those who needed assistance voting.

Myra celebrated the results alongside more than 80 campaign supporters gathered at the Lunenburg Curling Club on Saturday evening. He thanked his campaign team and family for their support during the campaign, and Fullerton for running a respectful campaign.

The victory marks a return to municipal politics for Myra, who was a Councillor with the Town of Lunenburg from 2000 to 2012 when he was not re-elected.

Peter Mosher remains the Acting Mayor of the Town of Lunenburg. Myra is expected to be sworn in as Mayor at the next regular meeting of Council on September 12.

(Myra reads his victory speeeh on election night. Photo: Jesse Ward)

“It feels pretty freaking amazing”

Myra spoke with The Barnacle following the results.

Asked how it feels to be Mayor-Elect of Lunenburg, Myra says, “It feels pretty freaking amazing.”

“It feels great. It just shows that teamwork makes the dream work, and we had a great team. We worked hard, we never went low, we ran a campaign on what I was going to do if I got elected.”

“What the team saw as the Town’s vision, we worked on together. We put a platform together, we stuck with that platform. We never once called out anybody, did anything negative – it was always positive, and that’s what we intended to do the whole time.” 

“I’m so proud of the team – by keeping it very professional, I think the numbers showed that’s what people want in this Town.”

“People weren’t happy with the direction the current group was taking”

Speaking to the turnout, and the fact he garnered 68 per cent of the vote, Myra says, “I think it means that people are engaged. I think it means people are very interested. It means people weren’t happy with the direction that the current group was taking, and the former Mayor was taking.”

“And I think that that was evident in the way we ran our campaign. What shocks me is even as recently as a week ago, I was told by some current folks sitting on council that they thought it would be very close, and they thought I would be shocked at the results. Well, we aren’t. The results are what we heard door-to-door, and it just shows the democratic process works.”

Asked how it feels to look forward to joining Council again, Myra says, “I’m a Lunenburger. I’ve lived here my whole life. I felt that it was time for me to step up and get involved, and now I have, I guess, 13 months to prove myself. And then we’ll see what happens again 13 months from now.”

Fullerton says thank you to supporters, intends to run in 2024 general election

In her first campaign for public office, Gale Fullerton convinced 377 Lunenburgers to vote for her to become Mayor.

Fullerton – an entrepreneur, former property manager, local volunteer and General Manager of the Lunenburg Yacht Club – ran a campaign emphasizing that she would bring integrity and a fresh set of eyes to lead the Town with senior experience in professional leadership and financial planning.

Fullerton, alongside supporters and members of her campaign team, spoke with The Barnacle by phone following the results.

“I’m pleased with the turnout. A lot of people came out and voted. I did not think we would have that percentage of the voters getting out and voting for a by-election and in August,” says Fullerton.

“However, I am pleased that many did come out to vote. Clearly, they care. They mean what they say when they say they want a voice, and they’ve spoken.”

“I wish Mr. Myra well. He has a long list of priorities to tackle with Town Council in the next 12 months. Really and truly, I wish him well,” says Fullerton.

“I have had a wonderful experience in this whole process, and I have a very dedicated team to thank for all the help they’ve given me.”

“My message to the people of Lunenburg is, ‘Thank you.’ Thank you for the opportunity, and thank you for the people who did support me.”

Fullerton says she intends to run in the 2024 general election.

Myra a longtime Lunenburger

Jamie was born at the Fisherman’s Memorial Hospital in 1969. Since the early 1990s, Myra has lived and worked in Lunenburg, where he has raised two children with his wife Sandra in New Town.

Myra is the proprietor of Stan’s Dad and Lad haberdashery on Lincoln St., a business handed down by his late father, Jim Myra.

Jamie Myra was educated at the Lunenburg Academy, and the Lunenburg Jr. and Sr. High School. He attended the Nova Scotia Community College Lunenburg Campus for Sales and Marketing from 1991-1992. He was formerly Business Manager at the Bluenose Golf Club.

He has volunteered with South Shore Tourism, the Lunenburg Fire Department, the Lunenburg Curling Club and Lunenburg and South Shore Minor Hockey.

Myra said his main priority is to help people feel heard by Council

Myra’s campaign slogan was “Connecting Community and Council.”

At the Barnacle’s Candidates’ Debate on July 31, Myra said in his closing statement, “the one thing that’s become quite clear, going door-to-door, the constant message I get everywhere is – New Town, Old Town, Centennial Avenue – is people just feel they have not been heard.”

“And how that happened, or how we can fix that – you know, that’s my main priority. And in order to do that I have to work with the current Council to get there, and the staff. And I think we can do it.”

He said he decided to run for Mayor, “when I presented facts and figures at a council meeting, at the budget, and it seemed to be ignored.”

On May 12, Myra presented at a Council meeting ahead of a motion to pass the 23/24 operating budget.

“I sat at this table for twelve years and I swore I’d never be up here doing what I’m doing here tonight,” said Myra in front of a packed gallery at town hall. 

“But quite frankly, looking at the budget this year and looking at some of the numbers and some of the expenses – I really want my business to be there another 67 years, and I’m concerned it might not last six or seven with some of the direction we’re heading into at this point.”

In Myra’s speech to council, he said he was concerned by budget increases for studies and staff hiring, especially after research comparing Lunenburg’s population and number of staff to other Nova Scotia municipalities.

“I look at all this, and I say, why do we need all this staff. If we’re that dire financially, and we’re that close to dissolving or amalgamating, maybe that’s where we have to slow down the horse a bit, and not keep hiring, hiring, hiring,” he said in his speech.

“And if the staff can’t do what the CCP demands at this point, put it off for a year or two. That’s what we used to do, because we always were struggling for money.”

“What really amazed me when I looked through the budget is despite all the pushback, the uncertainty in the community, we have $175,000 in the budget for the next phase of Blockhouse Hill. Sometimes the best thing a politician can do […] is read the room.”

“I don’t think if I was sitting at that table I would approve a budget of $175,000 to spend on Blockhouse Hill at this point until you have some public engagement sessions, talk to the people, and see what they want.”

Myra urged Council to hold a town hall meeting on the issue. “I think until that happens, this community is divided, and I’ve never seen it like this.”

Council did not address his comments.

As President of the Lunenburg Board of Trade (LBOT), Myra has been vocal on his opinion that the campground operated by the Board of Trade on Blockhouse Hill should remain on the same site in some capacity.

The Town of Lunenburg has indicated that the Town lease to the Board of Trade for the campground land, at a cost of just one dollar, will expire in 2024.

What has Myra said he wants to do as Mayor?

At the Barnacle’s candidates’ debate on July 31, Myra made these statements about how he would lead Lunenburg as Mayor:

On potential divestment of Blockhouse Hill lands:

“I’ve been stating in all my documents that if I get elected, the first thing that I would ask the current Council to do is hold some public information sessions (on Blockhouse Hill). What I mean by that is, I mean, Council and the Mayor should hold public information sessions. We’re being told that when the designs come through, the designers are going to hold public information sessions. I think the citizens want to hear from the Mayor and the Council on this, and they want to sit down and hear what everyone has to say. Once we know what everyone wants with that land, then we will get proceeding or not proceeding, because it’s really your land.

On housing:

– “You have to look at the existing properties for sale in town and identify what ways to work with non-for-profits to create housing on some of those properties.”

– “Encourage development on open, empty house lots. There’s now a lot of double lots in town that have a lot sitting there vacant – work with those people to maybe put a small house there and give them some type of a tax break, some type of a municipal partnership to get another house in that area.”

– “Have first right of refusal for any multi-unit buildings that are for sale to be offered to a local non-profit. So if there is a multi-unit building for sale in Lunenburg, maybe the municipality works with other levels of government to hand it over to a non-profit.

– “We really have to look at short-term rentals and try to convert as many of those into long-term rentals as quick as possible. I’m not sure how easy that is, but Halifax and Yarmouth have taken a serious approach to that, and other jurisdictions in Canada have looked at that, so I think that’s one of the areas we have to look at.”

– “Currently, Harbourview Haven is in the midst of being rebuilt. […] So if I get elected, I’d like to work with the board of Harbourview Haven to make sure it’s rebuilt in Lunenburg.”

On climate threats:

“Climate change is very big for the province as well, so if we partner with some of our universities like Dalhousie University, who has just done a lot of research on possible climate threats in Halifax, who we’re very similar to in topography, and the Government of Canada announced in April that they’re giving Dalhousie University $154 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant program to embark on the most intensive investigation ever into oceans climate change. We can learn from Dal, right down to the whole shoreline. And tweak recommendations, and mitigate steps to fit Lunenburg specifically. We will see what other municipalities in Nova Scotia have done to share information and costs.”

On Old Town Lunenburg’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation:

“I don’t waver in my belief in the UNESCO designation. We cannot do anything in this town to ever threaten our UNESCO designation.”

On the renaming of Cornwallis Street: “I think what I’d do if I was elected as Mayor, is I’d revisit the Cornwallis Street renaming to ensure the Indigenous community had adequate input into the renaming. The entire purpose of a name change was to remove the name and history of Cornwallis. We may need to begin anew with a community-led process to heal the rifts that developed over the failed process. My plan as Mayor is to immediately contact and invite the Chief of the Acadia Band, Chief Robinson, to meet with myself and council and establish a new framework with which to address the Cornwallis Street issue.”

On infrastructure, budgeting and financial transparency:

“We do need to fix a lot of our infrastructure. But we need real numbers, real reports and real figures in front of us. Not the report we saw a month and a half ago – numbers “between ten and fifteen million dollars.” Well, between ten and fifteen, five million, to me, is a big number. So we need more accurate numbers and more detailed reports.”

On the future ownership of the Lunenburg Academy:

“My solution would be that LAF, the Lunenburg Academy Foundation, should take over the complete day-to-day operations of the building including getting paid for the leases from other people, the heat, the lights, etc., while LAF works out a plan that allows the Town to step back a bit more over the next three to five years while they get this in place. 

During that three to five years as they plan, the Town can establish an annual funding model to remain as a funding support system for LAF. This could be accomplished by reworking the existing funding models, i.e. parking or fine revenue. Possibly some money from the campground if it continues. Or a combination of both. Another option is, use a percentage of the deed transfer tax that’s been off the charts lately.”

Campaign was beset by anonymous allegations

Over the course of Myra’s campaign for Mayor, an anonymous entity sent emails to news media and private individuals in Lunenburg with unsubstantiated allegations opposing Myra, primarily alleging Myra’s mishandling of Bluenose Golf Club finances in 2010 when he served as Business Manager.

In a June 19 post to the “Myra ForMayor” Facebook Page, Myra addressed the allegations, writing, “The 2010 Board and I have remained clear that we have no comment in relation to a 2010 matter that was investigated and resolved by the Board in 2010. I have been a member of the BGC from 1979 to 2023 (44 years) and continue to be involved at the club in helping with and organizing tournaments.”

When asked by the CBC about the allegations in July, Myra said he and the club “went our separate ways” professionally.

Election victory marks return to municipal politics after eleven years off council

Myra served three consecutive terms on the Town of Lunenburg Council from 2000 until 2012.

When he first ran for council in 2000 at age 32, in a candidate’s profile submitted to the Lighthouse Log newspaper, Myra’s statement on why he was running for council said: “It’s time for something new . . . younger ideas in council to help fuel a path for the future.”

Myra was chosen by his fellow Councillors to become Deputy Mayor in October 2009, a position that lasts a one-year term. Over his time on Council he represented the Town on the Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency. He was the Chair of Recreation for 10 years, and Vice-Chair of Public Works and Electric Utility.

When Myra ran for re-election as a councillor in 2012, he missed the mark by a small margin – he received 494 votes, just 39 votes fewer than Peter Mosher, who was elected to council for his first term and now serves as Acting Mayor of Lunenburg. 

Myra was the only councillor to not be re-elected, and the six winning councillors received between 533 and 765 votes.

In a story published in the Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin following the 2012 election, journalist Robert Hirtle wrote:

“In defeat Mr. Myra alluded to a rift in the community that seemed to become more emphasized as the election campaign wore on.

‘All I can say is that at least Lunenburg got one vote right and that was Rachel [Bailey] for mayor,’ he said. ‘I truly hope that the other camp now sees and realizes that they are the overwhelming minority and that they allow this new mayor and council to get to work and not be second-guessing everything they do.’ ”


Comments

One response to “Mayor Myra: Board of Trade President Jamie Myra voted next Mayor of the Town of Lunenburg”

  1. Alison F Strachan

    I keep seeing this message repeated: “Out of all eligible voters, 1,188 out of 2,021 – or 59 per cent – voted. Voter turnout in the 2020 general election was 64.1 per cent”.

    A summer by-election is incredibly hard work and I know both candidate’s teams worked hard during challenging weather to pull out almost 60% of the vote. When compared with the hotly contested Preston provincial by-election that had multiple visits from provincial party leaders, that only managed to pull out less than 39% of the vote, the Lunenburg by-election was definitely a successful election.

    Well done folks! Congratulations to Jamie Myra and thank you to Gale Fullerton for helping that % reach almost 60%. As Ms. Fullerton said, “I did not think we would have that percentage of the voters getting out and voting for a by-election and in August.”

    Both should be pleased with their results and we should stop trying to compare it to a full slate general election.

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