John Higham has announced he will not seek re-election as the mayor of Sackville.
“I had made a commitment that I would do one term as mayor and I’m going to keep that commitment,” Higham said during a brief speech today at the mayor’s New Year’s Day levee at Sackville’s Town Hall.
He added that while he won’t be running as mayor in the 2020 municipal election on May 11, the community will need to decide where it wants to go from here.
“I think it’s really important for you to consider what you want this community to look like in 10 years from now,” Higham said.
The mayor appealed to about 60 people at the levee to get involved as volunteers in such efforts as making Sackville a fully, age-friendly community, contributing ideas to the mayor’s roundtable on climate change or helping start a local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton.
“There is a wide variety of things outside of regular town business that may attract you,” Higham said, “and I would encourage you to get involved and consider how you want to help build this town for the future.”
Earlier, Higham noted that when he campaigned for mayor in 2016, he called for a fresh approach to municipal issues.
“I think that if we look at much of the town activities over the last little while, we probably have hit on most of those themes that we talked about at the time,” he said.
He added, for example, that the town has established a leadership position in community-supported education through Sackville Schools 2020 and along with Amherst, has pushed for federal/provincial action to deal with the threat of flooding on the Chignecto Isthmus.
Higham said he’s been told that a contract has been signed for a $700,000 study of ways to reduce flood threats caused by rising seas and more frequent storms.
“The solutions for the saltwater threats are to be seriously reviewed in the next year or two,” he added. “We’re really happy about that because that threat is a constant and current danger to us here.”
The mayor said that the Lorne Street project has reduced the threat of freshwater flooding while transforming part of downtown Sackville through the creation of more wetland habitat.
Higham also mentioned new activity in the industrial park and the town’s strong financial position.
“So yes, things have gone pretty well in the last year and we’re well situated for this coming year,” he said, “and things have been pretty successful in my view.”
He added though that Sackville still faces challenges.
“You have to decide as a community whether you wish to continue on this path or whether you wish to take another path,” he said.
The mayor didn’t speak to Warktimes about why he decided not to seek re-election, but a report in the Moncton Times & Transcript says he promised his family that he would serve only one term. The newspaper quotes him as saying that his mother is in a care home on the west coast and another family member is ill making it hard to manage his personal responsibilities along with his role as mayor.
Higham is a partner in Chignecto Consulting Group, a firm that specializes in issues and projects affecting indigenous people.
To listen to the mayor’s seven-minute speech at his New Year’s Day levee, click on the media player below.