(Photo posted to Facebook by Adam Lordon)
It has been one year today (November 14th, 2017) since the people of Miramichi elected Adam Lordon as Mayor of Miramichi with a total of 4216 votes. His contesters never stood a chance as the closest Larry Lynch came was 1961, and Peggy Mclean with only just over 1,000. Since his win, Lordon has been progressing the city of Miramichi with the help of council and members of the public.
Before the election…
Lordon served one term as a city councilor in 2015 and filled his mother Nancy Lordon seat on city council. Just before becoming mayor Lordon served as acting mayor after the death of three-term mayor Gerry Cormier in June 2016.
Outside his role as mayor and councilor before that Lordon has ten years working as a media producer and director, and has worked with CTV in Toronto, and has been doing freelance contracts since his return home.
When asked how he felt a year ago when the results were announced Lordon could clearly recall what he was thinking at that moment. He said, “I remember feeling incredibly excited, from the first time I got involved with the city council. I got involved because I had a lot of ideas, and visions on ways we can improve the community and new things we could bring to the community.”
Lordon suggested that being elected was a validation of the vision that himself and the previous council had been putting forward for the community of Miramichi. He was extremely excited to be able to continue the path with city council to get the ideas they all had been working on together, into action.
When he went into the campaign he said he was expecting to lose so he wouldn’t get disappointed. As he does with all campaigns. He worked extremely hard over the course of the campaign and on November 14th, 2016 the public decided and his hard work paid off!
Since being elected…
Lordon spoke on how his life has changed since his win. In certain aspects more than others, as he was doing all the duties and responsibilities of mayor while being acting mayor.
“It changed in that I was now actually the mayor. There is a stronger voice that comes with that. There are more platforms, people listen and look to you, and how you are representing yourself and the city.
It changed in that I have to think about bit more, and be very careful what I say, all the time. You’re never not the mayor, even at the grocery store, event at the pub, you have to make sure you are representing yourself and the city in a way that puts our best foot forward.”
There are many accomplishments within the last year that Lordon is proud to say he was apart of. Lordon spoke on the amount of time it takes to get things done within the city, and how much work is put into the decisions made.
One of his proudest achievements being that the community has become a more open, accepting, inclusive community. He referenced the painting of the pride flags, the raising of the Mi’kmaq flag which is important to him with the reconciliation with the first nations.
(Photos posted to Facebook by Adam Lordon)
“For a long time Miramichi has had a perception of being a very conservative place, and I think what we are seeing in the community and what we are helping to try and communicate is that we are a much more open and inclusive community that we were in the past.”
When it comes to other areas he mentioned that the city has secured millions of dollars in water and wastewater funding that will be transforming the city’s water system ten years. “We are paying twenty-five cents on the dollar for those, that’s a huge, huge achievement.”
The Over The Cove Zipline, that opened summer of 2017 and the murals in the downtowns are other accomplishments that Lordon was proud to say himself and council brought forward and that they pushed hard to get the ziplines in the city.
Although they are not expensive projects Lordon said, “they show that we are willing to change and that when we take a risk and we try something new, it can and will be well received.”
(Photo posted to Facebook by Adam Lordon)
When it comes to the murals Lordon spoke on how they speak to an artist and cultural renaissance that has started to grow within the community. He spoke on how the city now has live music and comedy shows, and although he does not take credit for those things, he does feel apart of making it happen.
“I think people saw me and council coming in and said, Miramichi is changing, and now the idea I had for five years is now the time for me to pursue that.”
The most rewarding part of the job according to Lordon is being able to make people happy! When himself and council start ideas and then finally put them forward into the community and see the public reaction whether it be happy or proud to be in the community, and then the ability to let people know they are appreciated is rewarding in his eyes.
Although with the positives, there are always the negatives or the not so happy parts of the responsibility of being mayor. When asked what the most challenging role of being the mayor is Lordon explained that not being able to change everything or impact everything is definitely the most challenging, as well as finding the balance between the mayor, day job, personal life, and accepting that there are things that are out of the city’s control.
Lordon said, “We can advocate and lobby, but we can’t control everything. Accepting that you can focus on the things that you really can impact and that some things are not in your control.”
Excited for the future…
There are many things that the city has been actively working on for the next year(s), and I took the time to ask what are some of the projects that Lordon himself is looking forward to the most. He mentioned that they are pursuing the funding for the rebuild the Station Wharf Marina in Chatham, and also the funding for the Multiplex.
“The Multiplex, in particular, will be the biggest project in the city’s history. It is a lot of work, council and staff have been working on this for the past six years. We are at the point now that within the next year we plan and anticipate that we will secure the funding and officially start building that project” Lordon said.
Another aspect he is looking forward to is working with the downtown business districts, waterfronts, and the community to develop a vision for the next twenty years for the downtown districts.
When it comes to the future Lordon said, “there’s always lots to do.”
Transparency within the city and council…
Something that always mentioned when it comes to any form of politics is transparency. You hear it during campaigns, and every time a decision is made within government. I asked Lordon if he believes that both himself, council, and city staff are transparent in every decision made.
“I’d say following the rule of the law, absolutely!” Lordon said, and although he does not get a vote and actually make a lot of decision he can influence councilor but in the end, he has no vote.
“I feel that I am probably the most transparent and accessible, and accountable mayor in the city’s history.”
Although he said he does not mean that as a slight to his predecessors that it is because times have changed and with social media Lordon said he works hard on announcing all of the events and meetings that he attends on behalf of the city, and he spoke on the fact that he gets more Facebook messages than emails, which speaks to the change in society’s accessibility to him itself. He said, “I take every call, I return every message, and I take every meeting.”
Firefighters staffings issue…
The Miramichi Firefighters staffing concerns have become an increasingly important issue to many, and the concerns are not going anywhere fast. Since before Lordon was elected the staffing for the firefighters has been something that the city needed to take into consideration.
Now with social media and the Miramichi Firefighters Association page increasing the pressure on city and council with discussing the problems with members of the public it has increased the momentum for those wanting a solution.
Lordon said himself and council recognize that there are a number of issues within the department, and that is why the report was done. When the Pomax report was released in May himself and council endorsed it as a roadmap.
“We continue to work on all the actions that are laid out in the report. At the preliminary budget this week we saw almost $60,000 in proposed funding for training. Traning was identified by everybody, as an area, we needed to improve so we are addressing training.”
The money is for any firefighters that want to take training, and also in the budget are two new fire preventions officers and those positions will be posted before the end of the year. The officers will also be active firefighters. “During the daytime, we will have 50% more firefighters on duty than we do right now,” he said.
Lordon said they will continue to work together to collect more data and determine if more firefighters are needed. Everything is done on facts and data in all areas of every decision made in every department within the city.
Centennial bridge closure…
Although the centennial bridge is actually a provincial government project, the city will still be affected during the closure. According to Lordon, they have been working with DTI (Department of Transportation & Infrastructure) to come up with a solution to the congestion planned during the closure.
The provincial government is projecting the closure for 2019, and in the city’s five-year plan Lordon said they have prioritized improvements to the King George Hwy, some of which include widening areas of the highway.
The Community Project Fund…
This year the city saw The Community Project Fund happen for the first time, although the idea originated with the previous council this years council brought it to light. Lordon said they all believed it was a great idea to engage members of the community.
(Photo posted to Facebook by Adam Lordon)
“I believe there is a lot of value in a program like that. In allowing people in the community to advance their ideas, share their ideas, and advocate for their ideas, then allowing the public to decide whats a priority for them. I’m a huge advocate for the program.”
Since it was the first year there were definitely bumps in the road, and when it comes to The Breathing Bus Inc. Lordon said he doesn’t believe anyone is satisfied with how that turned out. “I’m disappointed that it has gone that way, but that is not about the program. The program itself has a lot of value, but it’s how it was rolled out or how it ended up being executed.”
To push the topic a bit deeper I asked Lordon what exactly was the problem when it came to The Breathing Inc. and the $18,000 that was publicly announced after they had won the public vote. Lordon said, “I believe the interpretation from the city staff, is that they were not an accredited nonprofit 15 days after the voting finished.”
Although they are not allowed to discuss what happens during closed-door meetings Lordon said, “this was an interpretation of the rules by staff, that was an agreed upon interpretation by a majority of council. I’m disappointed on how it played out, I respect the interpretation of our staff and council, but I don’t share that interpretation.”
As for the future of The Community Project Fund, Lordon said he would love to see it in the future but it will be a decision by the council in the budget process. Although voter turnout was not as planned, Lordon spoke that during the middle of the summer was just bad timing for the voting and they took that into account and will make changes accordingly if the program returns in the future.
Is provincial, or federal politics in the future for Lordon?
I asked Lordon if he looks into the future after his term as mayor has he thought about a future in provincial, or federal politics or if he is happy in a municipal role.
“I am incredibly happy in my role right now. I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be right now. I’m incredibly lucky, I get to be the mayor of my hometown that I love so much. I feel with the council that we have, me in this role, and the staff that we have we are making incredible progress for the city.”
With his role in municipal politics and his day job, Lordon says he has the best of both worlds. Although he would be open to serving in another way, in the end, he has no intentions beyond the current term. He has two and a half years left, and lots of work and that is what he is focused on right now!