STU alumni and academic advisor Owen Marshall is vying for a spot on the Fredericton city council.
Marshall is running in Ward 10, which encompasses the area from Sunshine Gardens to the west end neighbourhood.
Marshall says he has been considering the idea for several months.
“I didn’t decide two minutes before the election to do this,” he said. “I’ve thought about it for four or five months. I don’t sign up for things to give 50 per cent. I like to do things well.”
Marshall feels he is a strong candidate because he is friendly, approachable and avoids making quick decisions.
“I like to take my time, get all the information and decide on what’s best with the information I have,” he said.
Marshall says his three-year-old daughter has inspired him to enter the race.
“I want to ensure she has the best neighbourhood and city to grow up in,” he said. “If Eloise hadn’t come along, I likely wouldn’t be doing this. Instead of complaining or watching from afar, how can I make things better for her? You make things better by getting involved.”
Marshall graduated high school in 1997 and spent the following year doing construction work in Victoria, B.C.
“I thought at that time that going to school was for suckers,” he said. “Then I realized my parents actually knew what they were talking about.”
Marshall attended STU, where he earned degrees in arts and education. After, he spent six years teaching in Ontario, then returned to STU and spent three years working in admissions and recruitment before becoming an academic advisor.
Marshall likes that municipal politics are non-partisan.
“I don’t think there’s room for party lines in city politics,” Marshall said. “It’s about our city, not the province or a party. It doesn’t involve the health system, education or fracking the province.”
His top priority is to complete what he calls a “cut-off” trail system in downtown Fredericton.
“The trail system in Fredericton is fantastic, except for downtown,” Marshall said. “It starts at Smythe by the Super Store and runs out towards the golf club where it’s cut off for two blocks. Then there’s a block of trail on Argyle, and it’s cut off again for two blocks and starts again on Regent and loops around the bottom of the universities towards the walking bridge.”
He says the section on Argyle Street is not well maintained, something he would like to change.
“It would be simple to add crosswalks, bike lanes and signs so you can connect it from Smythe to Argyle and over to Aberdeen and Harvey’s, so whether you live in my ward or not, if you like going for a walk, riding a bike or getting outside, you can start on the trail in one area and get downtown without getting lost.”
He wants to honour nationally-renowned playwright Norm Foster, and says that few are aware that he lives in Fredericton.
“Are we proud of the people in our area that have accomplished things or do we even know?” Marshall said. “We have lots of music festivals, but P.E.I. is known for theatre events in mid-July. Why don’t we have our own festival from July 1 to 14? I would like to work with Theatre New Brunswick, the city and province to bolster this.”
Marshall also thinks the downtown lacks a community garden.
“I’ve met with the head of the exhibition grounds, and he thinks it’s a good idea,” Marshall said. “I would like to create a community garden whether in the exhibition grounds or other parks. It would bring people out and rent a plot for next to nothing, grow local food and produce.”
Marshall stresses the importance of focusing on a few priorities and managing taxpayers’ funds wisely.
“If you bring several things forward, people are going to wonder about whether to take you seriously and think you’re all over the place,” he said. “I always question how many people will truly benefit when the city spends money on a given project.”