English’s exit interview
By Mark Squibb/August 26, 2021
Paradise councilor Allan English said he began to second guess his decision to not run for re-election – a decision he said he made at the beginning of his third council term – after a case of ‘election fever.’
“I basically made the decision four years ago, but when the heat of battle comes up, you start to waver a little,” English admitted this week. “As the election approaches, you think ‘Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t.’ But I had already made my decision. Just with the presence of the election, you get election fever.”
Eventually, said English, common sense prevailed, and he stuck to his original plan of stepping down after his third term.
English was first elected in 2005, and again in 2009, subsequently becoming deputy mayor. He ran for the mayor’s chair in 2013, earning 42 percent of the votes against current mayor Dan Bobbett’s 48 percent, which put him off council for one term. In 2017 he ran again, easily reclaiming a seat at the council table.
English said three terms are sufficient, and it’s time to hand over the reins to someone else.
“I’ve served on council for 12 years and that’s certainly long enough for me,” said English. “I have no intention of making a career out of politics.”
English served on council during a time of rapid growth in Paradise, both in regard to population and infrastructure.
“I personally don’t take credit for it, but I was there for the building of the community centre in Paradise, which is probably the thing I’m most proud to have been involved with,” said English, adding the centre would never have been built without Rotary Club contributions.
Other projects English said he was glad to be a part of include the opening of the industrial park, the building of the double ice complex, construction of the fire station, and plenty of water and sewer programs.
“It was such a momentous period and so many things happened in that period. It was very, very rewarding,” said English. “There’s a sense of fulfillment, in that period of time in particular. It has waned somewhat in the past four years, I can tell you that.”
Though English is proud of the water and sewer projects the town has completed, he said the pace of the work has seemed to slow over the last few years, and he hopes a new council will push harder to see those projects completed.
“There is one regret that I have,” said English. “And it’s not so much as a personal regret, but a regret regarding the activity within council. In 2002, the council of the day approved a water and sewer list. And there was tremendous progress made between 2002 and 2012. But there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity in the last four to eight years. And I really believe that needs to be addressed. I have pushed it myself, but I don’t get the sense that there is that level of commitment there. I believe that the town, the council, has the moral obligation to complete that list.”
English chaired council’s finance and administration committee from 2005 to 2013 and served on several other committees.
This past term in particular, English was often the only, or just one of two councillors, who were more likely to vote against decisions by the majority of council and challenge decisions. He encouraged those running for council, especially those who have never sat on council before, to do the same, should they win a seat.
“Sometimes it’s difficult when you’re the only person voting against a particular motion,” said English. “But vote your conscience. It can be costly, and people don’t particularly like that, especially a mayor who is trying to do something and you are perceived as being an obstacle. But you have to vote your conscience.”
And to that end, English said he hopes that new candidates will put their names forward.
“The town desperately needs an infusion of new talent, there’s absolutely no doubt about that,” said English, who further advised that candidates be careful from whom they accept campaign donations.
“What I would say to people, and I’ll use myself as an example, I ran in four elections, and I never took a cent from any contractor or developer or anybody,” said English. “I refused it, turned down thousands of dollars. I would say to people, that if they can do it, they should refrain from accepting funds from interested parties. Because I’ve seen the impact of that within decision making in council. My advice is to refrain from it.”
Of the current council, English mentioned one member in particular.
“We have a relatively new edition to council, councilor Kim Street, and I have been very impressed with councilor Street over the past two years,” said English.
Street ran successfully in a 2019 by-election following the resignation of Paul Dinn, following’s Dinn’s successful run for the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial District of Topsail-Paradise.
And while English did not win the 2013 mayoral race, he earned the most votes of any councilor both in the 2009 and 2017 elections, a fact that he said tells him that residents appreciated his work.
“I would like to thank all residents of Paradise for supporting me in one way or another throughout those elections, and I would like to believe, I would hope, that they felt that I have represented them honestly, and fairly, to the best of my ability in that period,” said English, noting both he and his wife Denise are looking forward to retirement.
“Like everyone who retires, we plan to enjoy our retirement, and travel and so on. I am involved in a number of committees and organizations outside of my council duties, I always was, and I’ll pursue those. I wish the people of Paradise well — I am one of them, and I’m not going anywhere.”