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NEWS 95.7 hosts debate with three mayoral candidates

The municipality's three mayoral candidates faced off Thursday morning on The Rick Howe Show
2020 mayoral candidates halifax - mike savage - max taylor -  matt whitman
Mike Savage (left), Max Taylor (middle) and Matt Whitman (right)

The municipality's three mayoral candidates faced off Thursday morning on NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show, debating some of the leading issues facing HRM, including taxes, racial inequality and discrimination, and alternative transportation.

Mike Savage, Matt Whitman, and Max Taylor are all on the ballot with residents heading to the polls on October 17. 

Property Tax

This year the tax rate in HRM went up 1.4 per cent. 

Mike Savage compares that to other cities like Vancouver which hiked its taxes by about seven per cent, Toronto more than four, and Saskatoon which was more than three. 

He says it will be hard to manage COVID-19 without going to the property tax rate, but under his leadership, he will ensure everything is done to manage finances prudently to keep rates as low as possible. 

"We have kept our taxes down below any other major city you could probably name, but we've also invested in important services that people need," he says. "I'm proud of the way we have done our budgeting, and I'm proud of the place it puts us which is one of the strongest cities in the country to deal with COVID as we come out of it."

Fellow candidate Matt Whitman says it would be untruthful to pretend taxes won't go up coming out of the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Max Taylor says if property taxes do increase, there needs to be a more defined line between residential and commercial property tax to help small businesses. 

Racial Inequality and Discrimination

Matt Whitman says he agrees there is racism in HRM, but he is unsure if it is systemic.

During his time campaigning, he says he has heard loud and clear from residents that everyone is important. 

"I don't support the organization of Black Lives Matter, I think there are a lot of problems with that," he says "I do support what they stand for and that is that everyone matters and everyone is important."

Whitman says he is in favour of defending police and not defunding them. 

Mike Savage says, as elected officials, it's important to listen to the voices of people who are hurting and that he stands in solidarity with the Black community.

Meanwhile, Max Taylor says he is behind the Black Lives Matter movement, adding that many police officers in Halifax are abusing their power and they need to be held accountable for their actions. 

Alternative Transportation

Max Taylor says the feud between cyclists and those driving cars, is fuelled by congestion on the roads. 

Under his leadership, Taylor would like to implement more cycling infrastructure. 

"A lot of university students come here and we do focus on the environment, so it is in our best interest to invest some money and make better bike lanes," he says. "Not only does it cut down on emissions but it makes transportation easier for people."

Matt Whitman says he is among the 1.1 per cent of the population who identifies as a cyclist, and is in favour of smart bike lanes, in the right place and at the right price. 

Meanwhile, Mike Savage says it's not about the people who are on a bike now, but the people who will be on a bike in five years. He wants to make sure residents have the option to walk, bike, or take public transit. 

Listen to the full debate:

Katie Hartai

About the Author: Katie Hartai

In addition to being a reporter for NEWS 95.7 and, Katie is the producer of The Rick Howe Show
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