By Kevin Woodhouse
“I don’t know what to say, I’m at a loss for words,” said Paola Hawa, the new mayor in Ste. Anne de Bellevue following her victory over Paul Chablo, former police commander and professor at John Abbott College’s Police Technology department.
After having a chance to catch her breath following her 1,082-922 vote victory, Mayor Hawa said she “was elated with the results and am so glad my team and I ran a good, clean grassroots campaign.”
During the campaign, Hawa visited every home in the northern sector as well as every one in the south, knocking on hundreds of doors. Hawa was even out making door-to-door visits during last Friday’s wind and rain storm that pounded the island of Montreal.
Moving forward, Hawa wants to work on the city’s administration being a lot “more transparent. It won’t be done overnight but we will start with baby steps.”
One of those early steps will be to have the council meeting’s full agenda, complete with detailed resolutions, “available for citizens to read well before the meeting happens,” said Hawa. “We also want to project the resolutions during council meetings so that everyone can follow together.”
Within the next year, Hawa also wants to begin broadcasting council meetings via webcast so that residents who cannot make it in person can still be involved in municipal politics and know about local issues.
By being more upfront with the citizens, Hawa is hoping to see the raucous and sometimes aggressive question periods become a thing of the past. “When you explain the subject matter to people in a clear and calm way, they become less mad,” said the new mayor.
Meeting residents during her door to door visits, Hawa had a chance to “talk to so many bright and intelligent citizens with good ideas” and is hoping for more community minded suggestions from residents” as Sainte Anne de Bellevue moves forward.”
Out of 3,622 electors, 57 per cent cast their ballots, a higher than average turnout for a Quebec municipal election. Incumber Councillor Ryan Young held onto his seat for a second straight mandate, defeating former District 3 councillor Gerry Lavigne who ran in District 2 against Young. Young narrowly defeated Lavigne by an 11-vote margin.
Incumbents Jay Van Wagner and Jim Anderson were defeated while Yvan Labelle and Michel Boudreault won their seats in northern sector Districts 5 and 6.
“Thanks to all who got involved with my campaign and who voted for me,” said Hawa “We proved that the democratic system works.”
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