STU professor running for mayor to ‘challenge’ the way things are

Corinne Saunders Hersey has been a sociology professor at St. Thomas University for 17 years. Now she’s running for mayor of Fredericton. She said Mike O’Brien’s time as mayor didn’t meet her expectations.

Running for mayor was something Hersey had considered for a while and after the City of Fredericton budget meeting in December 2019, she knew there was no turning back.

“[You get to] that moment where you say, ‘Okay, I have to let it go’ or ‘I have to do it.’”

She said she disagrees on how the money was distributed.

“The New Brunswick Provincial Exhibition gets no money from the city. The homeless shelters don’t get much of anything from the city.”

She said Fredericton could also be doing more to combat climate change, help reduce homelessness and provide better public transportation.

“If don’t get in, then I don’t get in. But at least I can raise some of the concerns that I feel in the debate.”

Hersey has yet to submit her nomination papers because she said she wants to formulate a plan first and discuss things with her team. She plans to submit the papers this week.

A lifelong Fredericton resident, she’s been heavily involved in politics most of her life. She is member of the Council of Canadians and grew up in a political household, but has never been a politician.

“I never ran for politics, and I didn’t think I would ever have to. But I just didn’t see anybody else that was going to challenge what was happening.”

She said she was convinced to vote for O’Brien after asking him questions about student housing and jobs for students.

Hersey said he wanted to tackle these issues and she was happy with his answers but hasn’t seen him do anything to move forward on past promises.

She said the mayor’s task force on homelessness was a good start to solving some of the city’s issues but that it hasn’t seen any movement.

Part of her decision to run was based on the municipal government’s reaction to the Officers’ Square protests. Many groups including Save Officers’ Square and the Calithumpians theatre troupe came together to ask the city to reconsider their plans to cut down trees and renovate the square.

“10,000 people signed a petition that wasn’t even heard in city council.”

Even if she wins, Hersey said real change won’t happen unless some different city councillors are elected. That isn’t possible when some councillors for certain districts run unchallenged.

Hersey said she thinks more young people should run for city council and vote in municipal elections.

“I think they pay more attention to provincial not thinking that municipal holds a lot of power, but you have to start somewhere.”

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