CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Philip Brown could be forgiven for looking satisfied on Monday night.
On his third attempt at running to be the mayor of Charlottetown, Brown walked away from Monday night’s municipal election with a win by a margin of over 800 votes. In the final tally, Brown had garnered 6,136 votes.
The former city councillor and current educator edged out four other candidates – Cecil Villard, Kim Devine, Jamie Larkin and William MacFadden – for the post.
In his victory speech at his campaign headquarters, Brown talked about his plans to re-invest in affordable housing and city infrastructure, two issues that had been the touchstone of his campaign.
“We’re going to be working on affordable housing, the CADC and cleaning up the rivers,” Brown said.
“It’s quite obvious the issue we want to deal with first. It’s affordable housing.”
Brown said he sees his role as a mediator working closely with federal and provincial authorities – being the “grease on the wheels” as he put it – to address pollution in the Charlottetown harbour and the city’s housing issues.
Philip Brown quick facts
- Age: 59
- Occupation: Teacher and business partner at E.B. Brown Transportations Services and Atlantic Hy-Span Ltd.
- Education: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education
- Previous political experience: Served two-terms on Charlottetown city council (2001-2006); ran twice unsuccessfully for mayor (2010 and 2014)
- Ward: 3
- Quote: “I am passionate about Charlottetown. I will do the best I can for the city and its residents.”
Brown had previously served two terms as a city councillor in Charlottetown from 2001 to 2006. He ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Clifford Lee in 2010 and in 2014. Lee, who is stepping down from the post in order to work as the province’s special adviserr on affordable housing, won both contests handily.
Over the course of the campaign Brown maintained a similar platform to candidates Devine and Villard on housing issues, pledging to bring together developers and non-profits to strategize solutions and undertaking a study of under-utilized land in Charlottetown. But Brown also emphasized the co-op model of housing as a possible solution to the city’s shortage of rental housing, earning him the endorsement of Barbara Dingwell, the P.E.I. director the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada.
Brown also spoke of the need to advocate the province and federal governments to become more involved in building social and affordable housing in P.E.I.
Brown also pledged to regulate short-term rentals, including imposing a hotel-room tax on guests. Brown said the funds from such a tax could go towards building affordable housing.
Unlike Villard, who had pledged to lower the operating tax rate in Charlottetown, Brown resisted calls to lower taxes. He instead emphasized the need to improve city infrastructure and to bring the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation back under the control of the municipality. The CADC is currently run by the province.
In one of the most bizarre episodes of the campaign, Brown was accused by Villard at a debate, hosted by The Guardian, of pledging to fire Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly. Kelly was hired by the city after serving in the same role with Westlock County in Alberta. A report from the Alberta Department of Municipal Affairs concluded he contravened the province’s Municipal Government Act during his tenure there.
During the debate, Brown only committed to review staffing at city hall.
Villard arrived at Philip Brown’s campaign headquarters late on Monday night to congratulate him.
Brown will take the helm of a council composed of a mix of veterans and newcomers. Incumbent councillors Greg Rivard, Terry MacLeod, Mitchell Tweel, Kevin Ramsay, Bob Doiron and Jason Coady, Terry Bernard and Mike Duffy will be returning to city hall. They will be joined by a few new faces, including Alanna Jankov in Ward 1 and Julie McCabe who won in Ward 9.
In a speech on Monday night, Brown thanked members of his campaign team. But after three runs at the mayorship, he reserved his highest praise for his children Alec and Emma, and for his wife, Lori Devine.
“She’s a partner and she’s my best friend,” Brown said as he grinned at his wife.