Geoff Gallant

for Torbay Town Council 

CANDIDATE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH THE TOWN OF TORBAY

As part of the 2017 election the Town of Torbay asked all candidates 10 questions. Here are my full answers…


Question #1: What experiences (professional and /or personal) do you have that you feel support you as a great candidate for municipal council?

My personal, professional and political experiences all contribute to making me a great candidate for Torbay Council.

A graduate of MUN with a degree in Anthropology (Archaeology) and a diploma in Applied Information Technology (Honours), I have over 16 years of experience as a senior technology consultant. I am an experienced project coordinator, internet developer, and business intelligence analyst. 

Politically, I have had the honour and privilege of serving as your Deputy Mayor for the past 8 years. I have served on numerous committees both as a Council member as well as a community volunteer. While certainly not an exhaustive listing, my community involvement has included:

  • Deputy Mayor, Town of Torbay;
  • President, NL Stewardship Association of Municipalities;
  • Vice Chairperson, Jack Byrne Arena;
  • Member, Holy Trinity Elementary School Council; 
  • Volunteer, Holy Trinity Elementary Breakfast Program;
  • Vice-Chairperson, Torbay Environment and Trails Committee;
  • Founder, “Room for One” Refugee Committee;
  • Judge, Pouch Cove Lions Club, “Speak Out” public speaking contest; and
  • Volunteer, numerous Thrive initiatives in support of at risk youth.


My guest speaking engagements for various environmental, municipal, and political panels include: NL Environmental Industry Association (NEIA), Ducks Unlimited, Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Network (NLEN), CBC Radio, CBC TV and VOCM.  

I have also been a Torbay Citizen of the Year nominee and a KPMG National Award Recipient for Community Leadership.

At a personal level, my passion for our community, and my commitment to making Torbay the best community in this province in which to live and raise a family make me a valuable voice at Town Council.


Question #2: What’s one thing you would like residents to know about you?

Plain and simple, I love Torbay. My desire to continue to be part of the Torbay Council is motivated by that love for this community.

More elaboration on my love for Torbay, is perhaps best illustrated by “The Generation that Returned to NL” (produced by CBC's The Current). It can be found at:

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-in-st-john-s-newfoundland-for-march-9-2016-1.3482966/generation-that-returned-to-booming-newfoundland-worries-for-future-1.3483153

 
Questions #3: What made you want to run for Council?

 I first ran for council in 2009 because I wanted Torbay to be developed in a more beautiful, sustainable, and resident friendly way. For example, I wanted to save our critical wetlands from destruction and the coast side of the East Coast Trail to be development free. I also ran to end the practice of the town breaking its own regulation and charging "assessed value" instead of the prescribed "market value" when it came to greenspace development within the town. I want to thank the public for their support in the last 2 elections which has allowed us to achieve these goals!

My reasons for running in 2017 are that I want to contribute to making Torbay a family friendly community. A safe and beautiful community in which we will be proud to raise our families.  One that has the amenities and services we need - planned and delivered in a fiscally sustainable and transparent way.

I intend on applying my core values of sustainability, fiscal responsibility, and transparency to all council business. 


Question #4: Why is it important for you to participate in your community this way?

I believe that if you want your community to grow and prosper, there is an obligation to participate and contribute to that process. One of the best ways I know of to participate and contribute to Torbay’s future is to offer oneself as a candidate for Council. It’s important to participate because municipal government is serious business. Council handles millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money annually. The decisions we make now will impact us, our children and community for years to come. I want to be there to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of Torbay – its present and future. I want to ensure the decision-making process is transparent, informed, and reflective of citizen priorities.

 

Question #5: If elected, what do you hope to achieve as a councillor?

If elected, I have three specific priorities that I think will be beneficial to the town overall.

First, to put forward a motion to limit the amount the average tax bill can increase per year. (Canadian Federation of Independent Business recommends a limit of growth + inflation).

Second, to video record and publish the conduct of public council meetings, to ensure that citizens can see their council at work and hold it accountable for transparency.

And thirdly, I will remain committed to retaining and maintaining our conservation zones, organized development, and expanding our parks and trails.

I also look forward to continuing my support for our new recreation center, museum and history house, public library and improved water services.


Questions #6: Can you tell me one specific issue currently facing Torbay and how you would begin to address it should you be elected?

Taxes. We have accomplished a great deal in the last 8 years. We have undertaken numerous much needed but expensive endeavors. My main goal for the next 4 years would be to ensure we proceed in a financially responsible way and stay on track. I don't want to over burden our taxpayers in the years to come. There is only so much our residents can shoulder, and only so much our town can do without first developing a larger commercial base (currently our ratios are not good). We need to focus on attaining a new serviced water source and attracting new businesses to our town to achieve balance.

We need to be careful and vigilant with our spending, not with the goal of doing less, but with the goal of being smarter and achieving more in the long term. I really want to ensure we don't write checks our residents can't cash.  I think we can achieve that through careful multiyear budgeting and forecasting.  We need to ensure that our undertakings are costed before they are committed to and that projects stay on budget.

I will continue to support the things we need, but I will ask the tough questions to ensure we live within our residents' means. Looking at my record as a council member, you will see that I voted against tax increases twice in the past 2 terms.

 
Question #7: What do you think, are the major benefits of having a municipal democracy?

I believe that municipal government is the truest and perhaps most challenging form of democracy. Municipal government is where the rubber meets the road. It is where resident voices and concerns can be heard in a most impactful and personal way. As a councilor, it is the place where you can make the most difference. It is a non-partisan form of democracy, where the only criteria should be whether a particular action / project is in the best interests of the community. You can vote the way you feel, not the way you are told to vote. It is a form of democracy where even a lone, respectful voice and vote can make a real difference. 

 

Question #8: In your opinion, how important is diversity on a municipal council?

Diversity is very important. A Municipal Council should reflect the natural diversity we find in community and ensure that the priorities and voices of all segments are fully considered in all decisions made. We need to ensure, for example, the voices of families, youth, seniors, and persons with disabilities are all heard and that their interests are given full and equitable consideration. I think it is important to have people on council of all ages, backgrounds, and genders. A diverse council will tend to have diverse ideas... and that’s a good thing. 

 
Question #9: Why should residents of Torbay vote you into council?

People should vote for me because they know I'm honest, hard working, informed and respectful, and that I am dedicated to always acting in the best interests of this community and its residents. I think people know me by now from being in the community, in the press on important issues, and at their door step. I am proud of my positive track record and my reputation as someone who genuinely cares for and is committed to our community. I am committed to listening, learning, and fighting to ensure that as a governing body your Town Council continues to improve.


Question #10: If elected, what will you enjoy most about being a councilor?

As a father of a young family the thing I'll enjoy the most will be helping to ensure that the Torbay I loved as a child is still the Torbay that the next generation will love as much as I did. I see that as both my responsibility and obligation.