Earlier this week Shelley Rinehart, Director of the MBA program and professor of marketing in the UNB Saint John faculty of Business, announced her candidacy for Mayor in the upcoming municipal elections.
Rinehart is currently serving as the deputy Mayor of Saint John and after her first term as a city councillor has decided to run for top spot at city hall.
Rinehart, a Saint John native, has held many positions at UNB Saint John including a stint at the Dean of Business for over six years before a secondment to the provincial government.
In an interview yesterday Rinehart explained some of her motivations, “I chose to work at a university because of the learning opportunities that you get. Even as a faculty member, there are millions of opportunities. Even in the classroom, you learn from your students.”
Faculty members are also required to do service, both internal and external to the university. “In the last few years a lot of my research has been on political communications and policy-making. It seemed like a good time for me to offer up, to continue the activities that we’ve been working on.”
“I think that this council has done a great job of creating a very positive face for the community, and we’ve also done a lot of really hard work,” Rinehart stated after expressing her disappointment when finding out that Mel Norton, the current mayor, had decided not to re-offer.
“There’s lots more to do,” Rinehart says about her time on council
With other projects coming to a close, Rinehart feels she has enough time outside of UNB to focus on new projects.
“It seemed to line up for me. I’m really interested, this is something I think that I have both the time and the passion for right now, and so I put my name in.”
Tough times in The City
With the city of Saint John facing many of the same challenges as UNB, such as declining revenue and the increased cost of services, Rinehart will have a tough time convincing the voters of Saint John she can tackle the problems.
“I am very concerned about where our city was heading. We’re in some tough financial times, tough economic times globally…” says Rinehart, “lots of tough choices, and you can’t make everybody happy.”
Rinehart’s ideas in dealing with these challenges includes the new City Manager who has been hired. “He’s going to put together a team to look at opportunities for efficiencies within the organization. That’s a good start. We also have to look at the development side of the house.”
While we will hear more details in the campaign to come, Rinehart says that economic development would be her main priority.
Rinehart is still relatively untested when it comes to experience on City council, with only one term under her belt.
“This was my first run at council, this last term, and I was very fortunate to get the vote to be Deputy Mayor, and I thoroughly enjoyed that experience.” Says Rinehart
“When I heard that Mel was running for Mayor, and I heard some of the other names that were being tossed around for council, I thought, it might be a good opportunity for me to bring some of what I knew both in terms of how to develop relationships with other levels of government but also from an economic development perspective and a community perspective to council, so I ran, and I’ve loved it.” Said Rinehart, explaining some of the reasons behind her run for council in the last election.
The director of the MBA program has no plans of leaving her position at UNB, but does have a few temporary leaves earned from her position which frees up time for her to run for Mayor.
“I already spend a significant amount of time at city hall and on campus. The nice thing about the work we do is that it’s portable…There’s a lot of synergies there.” Says the mayoral hopeful.
“I always want to be a strong voice for Saint John. I was born, I was brought up here, I had lots of opportunity to leave for work but I always chose to stay here because I love this community, and I want to see it prosper”.
Municipal elections will take place across the province in May and, as of publication of this article, there have been no other announcements of intention to run.