Two candidates are running for the mayor’s seat in Bishop’s Falls. The Advertiser spoke with both candidates about what issues they plan to tackle first if they are elected.
BISHOP’S FALLS, NL – Mark Brace, 24, is running for mayor of Bishop’s Falls.
While that may seem young to many, Brace comes with an extensive resume and work background. He founded his own business at just 19, and now owns and operates four different businesses within the town.
When asked what interested him in running for mayor, Brace told the Advertiser he believes the town has been neglected in many areas.
“It’s been neglected for years now and I’ve got a business mind – I’ve been into business now for five years and I know what the town needs to take it from where it is today and put it where it needs to be going.”
In his opinion, one of the biggest issues facing the town of Bishop’s Falls today is the economy.
“The economy is on a downward spiral,” said Brace. “It really needs to come back up. Without the economy coming back up the town can’t grow, which means it can’t really do things like keep up with the roads or introduce a youth center for the young people.”
Brace said he wants to change that.
“With just one of my businesses alone, we’re going to be employing up to 50 people now in five years. That creates an economic growth there with that one business.”
Brace also wants to create incentives for new businesses.
“I’m going to look at introducing new businesses being able to come to town [and] get set up, get what kind of tax break they would need in their first few years, which would create more employment.
“Once we start creating a new employment and bringing the economy back up, then there’s going to be new properties being developed.”
Brace said this will create work for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and heavy equipment operators.
“At the end of the day it’s a new tax revenue for the town,” he said. “That means the town can grow their finances a bit larger, be able to come in with new roads, come in with a youth center for the young people.”
Another issue Brace plans to tackle if elected is helping the youth of the community deal with mental health issues.
“If we don’t invest in our young then we’re not really investing into our future either – they need a place where they can go and meet with a counsellor if they got to.
“What it really comes down to, when a young person is having thoughts of suicide, they’re not going to come all the way to Grand Falls to meet with somebody.”
The tourism industry and infrastructure are two other areas of interest for Brace.
“We’ve got a huge amount of access to the Exploits River,” he said. “Tourism is a big thing, I know that they’re working on a few things … but I think more …could come out of it just from brining in new businesses. Another area is our infrastructure – it’s all aging. It all needs to be brought up to date, and it needs somebody there that really got the vision to put in place.”
Bryan King is running for mayor of Bishop’s Falls. King was born and raised in Bishops Falls and has served on council for the past eight years.
Now, he’s taking a shot at the mayor’s seat.
“I’ve got an invested interest, especially with two kids. I want to make sure that Bishop’s Falls continues to be – and hopefully I can make it a little bit better – a place to raise a family and for kids to grow up.”
King said he wants to see the Town of Bishop’s Falls move forward.
“It’s a place I’ve always been proud to call home,” he told the Advertiser. “It’s a place I want to continue to be proud to call home.”
King doesn’t believe one particular issue is plaguing Bishop’s Falls; rather, like most communities, many small issues need to be addressed.
“I think overall Bishop’s is in a really good situation. Financially, we’re stronger than we’ve ever been in our towns history, so we are doing really good financially,” King said.
King does see some social disconnects he would like to close, particularly with the youth of Bishop’s Falls.
“I plan on creating an actual youth council, working with the youth from certain age groups and have a youth council that’s set up,” he said. “This particular council will be set to meet with a committee within council. That way if there’s any issue the youth have, they actually have a direct voice to council.”
One problem is that there’s never enough programing for youth, he said.
“By closing that gap, let’s get them on board with us and working with us directly … so we actually hear what they’re looking for, things that we can do to make it better for them,” King said.
The look of the town is another concern of great interest to King, and one he plans to tackle if elected as mayor.
“It’s a big thing for me,” said King. “There are regulations in place right now for … properties and how they’re supposed to be set when it comes to garbage and scrap cars and things like that.
“Commercially too there’s rules and regulations in place; unfortunately, they’re not necessarily being enforced right now like I think they should be.”
King’s plan is to clean up the mess.
“Let’s get the private and commercial properties cleaned up,” he said. “I want to clean up (town) properties we own as well, starting on Main Street. That Main Street stretch, our town center – right now there’s a lot of ditches and tall grass; esthetically its very unappealing.”
King wants to backfill the ditches, remove the track bed on Main Street and have it grassed over, and install park benches and lamp posts so that “at town center …when you pull in it’s very nice and clean and neat and actually looks appealing.
“We need to make ourselves look good if we’re going to go out and start enforcing anti-litter regulations against business and private residences.”