Those who headed to the polls earlier this month wanted to send a strong message to their municipal representatives.
That message: change is required for the area to prosper.
That message was heard loud and clear in places like West Hants and Kings County.
Many of those in office were sent packing, some after decades of faithful service.
No matter how much good that a person may do while in office, poor decisions — especially costly ones — will be their downfall. That was especially true in West Hants, as the area voted out seven of 10 councillors, some of whom spent 20-plus years around the table. In Kentville, just one incumbent councillor, of five, retained their seat.
Kings County also lost several long-serving members, but it also elected its first mayor, Peter Muttart, as they moved away from the warden system.
If Windsor and West Hants cannot find common ground and work together, or if they don't amalgamate within the next four years, West Hants must consider switching to a mayoral system as it puts the power into the hands of the public instead of council to decide who should lead them.
The newly elected councillors — some who have yet to be sworn in — will be spending November and December getting their bearings and learning the ins and outs of what the job entails.
It's often a thankless job, but it's one that is vital to the community.
A lot can be accomplished in four years. There's time to mend fences and improve strained relationships. There's time to review, and possibly amend, decisions that were made without public backing or that caused a rift between community groups.
There’s time to explore many options.
There's time to reengage citizens and allow them to have a voice. For West Hants, that means reintroducing public input at the end of meetings. Reinstating joint council between Windsor and West Hants would also help repair communication between the municipal units. Perhaps creating a semi-annual meeting between councils serving residents from East Hants to the Annapolis border would better promote and encourage more regional cooperation.
There's time to reach out to groups and organizations that want to help build up the community instead of tear it down. There's time to refocus attention on promoting economic development and fostering a sense of community pride.
There's been too much negativity in recent years for our region to move forward in a meaningful way. With the slate of fresh faces sitting around council tables throughout Hants and Kings, there is a renewed optimism for the future. Don't let us down.