MONTAGUE — Voters in eastern P.E.I.’s largest town have a choice – once again - between two familiar faces for mayor when they head to the ballot box here Monday.
With more sequels than Rocky Balboa, Mayor Richard Collins and former mayor Pat McGowan have been political pugilists for the past two decades. They’ve even battled elections down to a mere one-vote victory.
Both have called it quits in the past 20 years — vowing never to return. But something is calling them back for a 2012 showdown — and it can’t be the annual $6,000 pay cheque.
“I would like the opportunity to contribute once again,’’ said McGowan, who has spent the last four years on the sidelines of civic politics.
Meanwhile, Collins likes his job and remains a relentless door to door canvasser.
“The town of Montague is a success story and a work in progress,’’ he said. “We are continuing to grow and develop in an orderly fashion.”
In the 2009 election, McGowan did not re-offer after a battle with her own council and calls for her resignation.
Some residents wanted a new face to emerge, but when one did — newcomer Robert Jay — he was handed a loss along with a third candidate, former town councillor Bernie Crawford.
Collins became the “Comeback Kid” when he reclaimed the job by 40 plus votes. It was Collin’s 13th election campaign and his seventh victory in 35 years of civic politics.
“So many people were writing me off and I just couldn’t take it,’’ he told The Guardian following that election. “I was hopeful people would give me another chance.”
This time out, McGowan says her health issues are behind her and she’s anxious to be part of the town growth.
“I’d like to see the (Main Street) Artisan project continue and I have a great interest in the waterfront and feel confident in the incorporated board that oversees it,” she said.
A retired teacher, McGowan said she would seek out more business for the town and welcomes the competition in the election.
“We should be grateful to all who put their names on the ballot and I appreciate my husband, Dusty, who is my biggest supporter.”
Collins says he’s anxious to lower residential tax once again, support the Artisans on Main project, and continue with accountable and transparent council meetings.
“We are truly a service and shopping centre with 14,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily,’’ he said noting that a five year plan for more waterfront development is in the works for 2013.
Both candidates have support camps of 40 per cent among the 1,200 eligible voters and it will be up to the undecided 20 per cent to determine the outcome.
Elections are also scheduled Monday in towns and villages across the province, with the exception of Charlottetown, Summerside, Cornwall, Stratford and the Resort Municpalitity of Cavendish.