SACKVILLE, N.B. - He’s a dedicated volunteer and a strong advocate for education reform in the community – and now Brian Neilson is putting his name forward for a seat on Sackville town council.
Neilson, who originally came to Sackville as a Mount Allison university student more than two decades ago and is now married with two school aged children, has been committed to the town in various capacities over the years and now wants to bring some of that passion and engagement to the municipal realm.
Through his voluntary work, Neilson said he has seen a lot of opportunities and potential for developing successful ventures and he’d like to be a part of developing a bigger-picture vision for the town.
“I want to get involved in more of the long-term planning,” he said.
Calling himself “more of a giver than a taker,” Neilson is a family man who says he simply wants to give back to the community he has come to call home over the past 20-plus years. Serving as the cook/manager at the University Club of Sackville for about 15 years, Neilson is presently a member of the Salem Elementary Parent School Support Committee, Sackville Community Association, the Crake Foundation, NB Federation of Home & School Associations, and Sackville Schools 2020. He is also the president of the Tantramar Family Resource Centre and the president of the Salem Home and School Association. This fall, Neilson has also been the community cooking instructor for Marshview Middle School's "Engage" program. He has previously served on the Dorchester Penitentiary Citizen's Advisory Committee and during his student years was a volunteer at the Sackville Food Bank.
Neilson said he believes he could represent several different demographics on council – including as a former university student, a parent, a volunteer – and serve as an ambassador for the town, promoting it as a great place to raise a family. He knows there is a desire by a number of Mount Allison students to either stay after graduation or to one day return – and he wants to ensure Sackville is doing all it can to retain those students.
He would also like to see more consideration being given to make Sackville a more walkable and “greener” town, and said the approach being taken with the proposed plan at the Trans-Canada highway Exit 506 is a good first step.
“We need to try and make that a destination rather than just a pass through,” said Neilson.
Neilson ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in the 2016 municipal election but said that didn’t deter him from throwing his hat in the ring again, this time in a byelection for the vacant council seat now empty following Megan Mitton’s resignation.
“While being unsuccessful last time, I didn’t lose interest in the town, the administration and its future.”
Neilson believes he has a good understanding of how council works and feels the shorter term will provide new candidates with a good introduction to municipal politics.