BROOKFIELD - Standing at the crossroads in Brookfield, a pedestrian watches as a slight wind sends a fallen maple leaf flitting through the air and tumbling across an empty intersection.
It's seemingly quiet here on this early mid-week afternoon, and a first-time visitor could easily be forgiven for mistaking it as just another a sleepy little rural community.
But that is certainly not the way those who live here would view their community. Far, from it in fact, says Hughie Matheson, a former Colchester County councillor who has decided to once again toss his hat into the political arena in a bid to serve as the area's municipal representative.
"I'd describe them as an aggressive, go forward, business-like town," said Matheson, 73, a lifelong Brookfield resident who spent 35 years as manager of the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex, along with 11 years on council, prior to the last municipal election.
Eight of those years were as deputy mayor and during the last election Matheson ran for the mayoral position, which he lost out on to Bob Taylor.
After four years of sitting on the sidelines, however, Matheson's political yearnings got the best of him.
"When I ran for mayor and lost that, I missed the challenge of getting things done for the community and people," he said. "At my age I still feel I have a little kick left in me so I'd like to get back."
Fellow Brookfield resident Gerald Buott, however, is one of at least three other individuals in the area who hopes Matheson does not win at this year's ballot box.
Buott, 65, has served as the area councillor for the past four years, after being acclaimed for the position when no other candidates stepped forward. A complete political novice at the time, Buott actually put his name on the ballot at Matheson's urging.
This time around, however, not only is he facing off against a more senior political adversary, but Buott is also going up against two other individuals (Carol Taggart and Geoff Stewart) who are both making their first forays into politics.
"This is a totally new experience for me. I've never, ever campaigned before, going door to door to talk to people," Buott said.
"When I went in there I was just like a turnip that fell off the truck. I didn't know the first thing about it."
First-hand experience can teach you a lot in four years, however, and, despite Matheson's greater experience, Buott said he is fully up to the challenge.
"I'll put my record up against his," he said. "Chances are equal for everybody. I wished him luck, he has his ideas and I have mine."
One thing the two are in full agreement on, however, is their viewpoint of Brookfield as a thriving community.
"Brookfield is a great community to live in, that's why I stayed here," said Buott, who owned and operated a local grocery store for 25 years after moving to the area from Dartmouth.
"It's a very, very close-knit community but a hard working community."
That is a point upon which neighbour Geoff Stewart also agrees.
Stewart, a small business owner and former fire chief, has spent all but a few of his 52 years living in Brookfield and he also views it as a "very close knit community.
"I think it's a great place to raise a family."
With his two children grown and with families of their own, however, Stewart said he believes he has more to offer.
"I've always been involved at some level through my whole life pretty much in the community with various organizations (including the fire department and minor and junior hockey) so I just thought this would be one more way that I could put a voice forward and represent the community in a positive manner," he said.
"I think I'm at a point in my life where I can give more dedication to the position."
That pretty much also sums up the position of Carol Taggart, the fourth candidate in the municipal riding that consists of Brookfield, Hilden, Alton and Brentwood.
Stewart, 58, is a Hilden resident who spent 31 years in the hotel industry, many of which were in management. She currently works in a semi-retired capacity as a realtor and co-owner of the Alderberry Village Craft Co-operative in Truro and believes she has the energy and experience required to serve as the area's municipal representative.
"I think Hilden can use the representation," she said. "I think when things get looked after in Brookfield, the residents have had a stronger voice. I don't think Hilden has had a strong voice. No criticism of council, councillors past or anything else."
But with three daughters and six grandchildren living between Brookfield and Shortt's Lake, Taggart said she also has close connections to that greater community as a whole. And like her three political competitors, Taggart said she has the time, energy and capability to serve as the area's voice at municipal council.
"I think most of all I listen well and I can communicate very well," she said. "I'm a person who cuts to the chase. Not an excuse maker, you know, if something is off the rails. And I will take responsibility for things. I will defend something if it needs defending."
In making their door-to-door rounds throughout the constituency, all four candidates said the two biggest issues that continue to float to the surface concern flooding and sidewalks, both in Brookfield and in Hilden.
They also all speak of the need for fiscal restraint and of providing good communication on issues back to their constituents.
For the next week they will continue to campaign. And until the ballots are counted and a winner has been announced, they will remain at the crossroads, waiting to see if the winds of change will toss a new representative into the mix, return Buott as their candidate of choice or bring an old political war-horse out of retirement.
"Sometimes change is good," Matheson said.
– Colchester County District 3 consists of the communities of Brookfield, Hilden, Alton and Brentwood.
– Four candidates are vying for the councillor position, including incumbent councillor Gerald Buott, former councillor Hughie Matheson, Geoff Stewart and Carol Taggart.
– Election day is Saturday, Oct. 20.