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Cape Breton Regional Municipality election candidates begin to emerge

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SYDNEY, N.S. —

Todd Riley has put an end to the speculation that he will run for mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in the upcoming elections.

However, the 47-year-old Sydney man, perhaps best known for his role in keeping a local call centre operating after its parent company went bankrupt, is looking to spend some time at city hall.

Riley has publicly announced he will be running for District 6 councillor. The district, that includes Sydney’s populous Ashby area, was represented by the late Ray Paruch for the past 20 years. Paruch died in April after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Ironically, Riley’s only other foray in municipal politics was in the 2000 election when he lost to Paruch in a battle for the District 6 seat on council.

“I made this decision after speaking with hundreds of people over the past couple of weeks and I am very happy to have a lot of supporters,” said Riley.

But even though the Oct. 17 election is still more than three months away, there is already competition for District 6 as Sydney singer-songwriter and health-care professional Barbara Beaton has thrown her hat into the ring.

Other announced candidates at this point include Donald Campbell Jr., who plans to run in District 12, an area that encompasses all of Whitney Pier. And, incumbent District 4 councillor Steve Gillespie has indicated he plans to seek re-election.

At this point, north end Sydney resident Chris Abbass, who ran against longtime Sydney mayor Manning MacDoanld in 1990, remains the only declared candidate for mayor.

“I was looking forward to debating with Mr. Riley, but I am glad to hear he’s still running in the election and if he wins I’m sure he’ll make a great councillor,” said Abbass.

But there is no official indication as to whether two-term mayor Cecil Clarke will seek re-election. The former provincial cabinet minister and Northside MLA has been mayor since 2012.

Archie MacKinnon of Little Bras d’Or, a one-time pre-CBRM amalgamation councillor who ran in Sydney-Victoria as an independent in the Oct. 2019 federal election, has acknowledged he is weighing his options before deciding whether to seek the mayor’s chair.

“We’re looking at it — I am thinking hard about leading our fight for change with a united council, l am one that will fight for the hundreds of millions of dollars taken from this island,” said MacKinnon. “I am looking for input from people for or against me running for mayor.”

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