Meet the candidates for Dartmouth South


​Dartmouth South goes to the polls for the provincial by-election on Tuesday, July 14 with four candidates in the running.

Hello Dartmouth wants to give readers the opportunity to get to know the candidates better, both here online and in person.

Check out the candidates’ answers to our survey, and plan on attending Hello Dartmouth Presents: Meet the Candidates on July 6 at the Alderney Landing Market.


Charlene Gagnon (Independent)


Tell us a bit about your personal life – family/job/hobbies, etc…

I am a single mother with two special needs teenage boys. I work for a non-profit organization based out of Uniacke Square called iMOVe doing arts and technology based programming, grassroots community organization, youth mentoring, and service navigation. I also do occasional contract work for academics and non-profits who need assistance with program evaluations or data collection/analysis. Outside of family and work, my main activities are reading, writing, gardening and playing music around the kitchen table and at the local pubs with my friends.

What made you decide to run in this by-election?

I decided to run in this by-election because I was inspired and impressed by the collective action demonstrated by the creative community, and was frustrated by the Government’s unsatisfying response to that action. I also wanted to shine a light on the aspects of government and the electoral process that are unfair, and keep people marginalized from power. I believe the citizens of Dartmouth South are also frustrated and are looking for a viable alternative and independent candidate to represent them in the Legislature, one who understands their struggles, and will be a fierce advocate for them in government.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing Dartmouth South at the moment and what, if elected, would you do to improve matters?

In all honesty, my opinion on the biggest issue facing Dartmouth South at the moment is irrelevant. What is important are the opinions of the citizens who live, work and play here. As I have been out canvassing, I am hearing many issues which are important to the residents of Dartmouth South. They include concerns about development and community identity, the increasing cost of living, and getting the homeless off the streets.

Dartmouth South is a community in the midst of transition and revitalization. Issues such as new housing developments, local and small business incubation and reinvented community identity are all things which come with the rebirth of a community. It is important to recognize and integrate the history and identity of “old Dartmouth” into this change in a way that engages and respects the long-term residents of the neighborhood. For the most part, development in Dartmouth South have been organic and inclusive of a variety of perspectives. It is crucial that corporate interests do not overshadow the desires and needs of the community.

As Dartmouth South’s MLA, I will do everything I can to ensure that the citizens who live and own businesses in the riding are consulted, supported, and represented in the face of these changes. I will also be a strong voice in the Legislature for home energy price regulation and food security; safe and affordable mixed use housing options for those with addictions, mental health and Criminal Justice issues, to get them off the streets and into environments where they have a chance to get healthy and integrate into the community in a way that doesn’t concentrate and create “slums” or interfere with public safety.

What is your position regarding support for arts and culture initiatives? Would you endorse financial support for the arts and culture sector?

Investing in creative industries is one of the four pillars of my campaign platform because they are profitable, sustainable, fun, inspiring and magical. The people who make TV and movies, write songs, paint and take pictures, design clothes and sets, and make crafts for a living are skilled, hard-working entrepreneurs, and are among our province’s greatest assets. Their contributions to our local economies are huge even if they can’t be measured to reflect their true and whole value by status quo methods. Beyond dollars and cents, the arts also open hearts and minds. They are therapeutic, and can give individuals a sense of focus, purpose and meaning. Story-telling captures and helps us make sense of our histories, whether that is done through film, music, or the visual arts. I would endorse support for the arts and culture sector, not only in economic ways, but also by recognizing the arts and culture are vital to our individual and community health and well-being.

Do you use social media, and do you expect it will play an important role in this campaign?

Not only do I use social media, but I have been researching and writing about the potential social and political influence it can have since 2005. I believe that virtual communities are important gathering spaces for people to connect and discuss their lives, ideas and what is important to them. Social Media technologies can be advanced tools for community organization and activism, if used in pro-social ways which compliment community development and inclusion.

Social media plays an important role in all political discussion and action, and this campaign will be no different. However, I recognize that there are still many seniors and low income families who do not have the skills or hardware to access social media, therefore, it is only a relevant outreach tool for some. Relying on social media as the only means of communication and outreach is not enough to engage with all Dartmouth South residents, therefore it will play an important, but not an exclusive role in my campaign.

What’s the best thing about Dartmouth South?

I have never been the type of person to easily identify favorites, as mood and context always influence what an individual considers “the best” at any given time. There are so many amazing things about Dartmouth South, our public green spaces, our emerging local business and entertainment district, our many recreation outlets, and of course the diverse and proud people who choose to live, work and play here.


Gord Gamble (PC)


Tell us a bit about your personal life – family/job/hobbies, etc…

My wife Kim and I are very proud of our three children – Leah, Gillian and Scott. They have made the past eighteen years fly by with school, sports and other interest. I played a lot of hockey, baseball and other sports growing up so I feel very fortunate to have children that are athletically active and this has provided me with the opportunity to coach them as well as many other kids in our community.

In terms of work, I have a broad base of leadership experience, having worked across Canada in the pharmaceutical industry for a period of ten years. Returning to Eastern Canada, I followed my entrepreneurial passion and I have owned and operated small businesses ever since. The challenge of starting a new business – having no customers and a large start up debt is a great motivator to work hard every day. I am currently an owner of MacTech Distributors Limited, a business in the welding industry.

In 2013, I was invited to provide business consulting services by the Management Team at Fares & Co Development Inc, the developer of the King’s Wharf project. This led to becoming the interim General Manager at King’s Wharf. It has been a pleasure to work with Francis Fares and contribute to the growth of downtown Dartmouth.

Both Kim and I were raised with an awareness of the broader community and the need to share our good fortune. We have been active in local resident community organizations and many charities. I have been connected with Feed Nova Scotia for over twenty years and have had the pleasure of serving as Chair of the Board. I am also a Rotarian and was recently Club President.

In terms of hobbies, I still lace up the skates, although not as often nor as quickly as I use to…and play golf whenever the opportunity presents. And of course, up until recently, politics has been just a hobby.

What made you decide to run in this by-election?

I made the decision in 2013 to run for political office. I have been active in Provincial and Federal political organizations for many years, but it was a call from Jamie Baillie in 2013 that convinced me to put my name on the ballot. I have known Jamie for over 20 years and I respect his business knowledge, integrity and life values – he will make a great Premier ofr Nova Scotia.

The tragic passing of MLA Allan Rowe this past March, was a shock to everyone. I feel very fortunate to have met Allan during the 2013 campaign, he was a true gentleman and based on the tributes following his passing, this was his consistent manner.

This tragedy required me to determine if I would run a second time, and with the support of my family I am pleased to be the PC Candidate in Dartmouth South once again.

I want to work with Jamie and his team, utilizing my business experience to create and implement an overall strategic plan for the growth of the Nova Scotia economy. I want to dedicate my working career to ensuring we manage the assets of Nova Scotia – tourism, natural resources, our Universities and the energy portfolio to their full potential and with a strong economy we can deliver quality healthcare and education to all Nova Scotians.

I would be honored to work for the residents of Dartmouth South to ensure their concerns are heard and addressed. I believe an MLA is in a position to collaborate with the other levels of government to ensure tax dollars are spent wisely to improve the quality of life for the residents of Nova Scotia.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing Dartmouth South at the moment and what, if elected, would you do to improve matters?

We’re all sadly aware of the issues facing health care in this province. I’m a firm believer that Dartmouth General Hospital is currently underutilized. I believe it is an underutilized asset in the healthcare system in our own back yard. If elected, I’d fight for a comprehensive plan to expand the role of Dartmouth General to include services like orthopedic surgery. I think this additional capacity could go a long way to decreasing the wait list times for hip and knee surgeries.

What is your position regarding support for arts and culture initiatives? Would you endorse financial support for the arts and culture sector?

This question is particularly topical given the fact that Dartmouth South is growing with a very vibrant arts and cultures sector. These sectors attract young people, oftentimes with families. This is the way we will move forward in Nova Scotia – by attracting more people like this. For that reason, my answer is an unequivocal yes, absolutely.

I don’t think it’s too much of an understatement to say that the gutting of the Film Tax Credit by the Liberal government will go down in political history as one of the most short-sighted decisions ever made.

Do you use social media, and do you expect it will play an important role in this campaign?

The honest answer is that I am not a big user of social media – however, I understand the merits in the political arena to improve the communication of ones actions to a broad audience. Engaging new audiences to political issues is critical to raise the overall voter activity. I am fortunate to have three teenagers at home, so they are my guides as I quickly become more active in social media.

It’s also a great way for residents to easily reach me with their concerns. It’s made accessibility to candidates and elected officials easier than ever.

What’s the best thing about Dartmouth South?

This is a difficult question as I feel Dartmouth South has so many “best things” to offer. It’s growing and becoming a very popular place for young families, older people looking to downsize and move into the downtown, and entrepreneurs looking to set up shop in an area they think they can succeed. I guess in a nutshell, the best thing about Dartmouth South is the future potential of the area!


Marian Mancini (NDP)


Tell us a bit about your personal life – family/job/hobbies, etc…

  • Hello Dartmouth!
  • My name is Marian Mancini. I grew up in Glace Bay, Cape Breton where my father worked as a coal miner and my mother as a nurse. They raised me and my five siblings on that wonderful island and it’s a place I hold dear in my heart.
  • Today, my family and I call Dartmouth South home – a place we’ve lived for 14 years. It’s a community I’ve come to love.
  • I’m a retired Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer. I have spent my entire professional career working with people who were struggling to get by.
  • The values that led me to my professional career are the same values I hold as the NDP candidate; I can’t ignore the actions of the McNeil government over the past two years and we have a unique opportunity to send the McNeil government a message.

What made you decide to run in this by-election?

  • McNeil is making it harder for young people to stay here, harder for families to live here, and harder for seniors to spend their final years in their home. It’s time to send Stephen McNeil a message.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing Dartmouth South at the moment and what, if elected, would you do to improve matters?

  • This by-election is about protecting patient care, reducing ER and surgery wait times and holding the McNeil government to account for poor decisions such as slashing the film tax credit and cutting funding to not-for-profit organizations.
  • Voters in Dartmouth South know they can count on the NDP to make life more affordable for post-secondary students, new grads, and seniors.
  • We need to send a message to Stephen McNeil that he can’t continue to ignore the issues facing our families.
  • We deserve answers on why the 5th floor expansion of the Dartmouth General isn’t a priority for the McNeil Government.

What is your position regarding support for arts and culture initiatives? Would you endorse financial support for the arts and culture sector?

  • I know how important arts and cultural industries are to Nova Scotia’s economy. Innovative and competitive sectors create good jobs and let people put down roots here at home.
  • The NDP has proven time and again that we support for creative sector jobs and will continue working to protect investment in our film industry.
  • Since being elected, Stephen McNeil has watched tens of thousands of jobs disappear.
  • Stephen McNeil is taking us down the wrong road and making life harder for Nova Scotians. He’s not the premier he promised he would be.

Do you use social media, and do you expect it will play an important role in this campaign?

  • You bet I do! It allows me to be accessible and let’s me reach many Dartmouth South residents.
  • Get in touch with me any time on Twitter @marianmanciniNS or on Facebook /marianmanciniNDP.

What’s the best thing about Dartmouth South?

  • I’ve loved watching the growth of our Alderney market – a place where we can all find local, affordable food. I’ve never needed to get a MacPass because everything I need is right here in Dartmouth.
  • Our lakes are magnificent, our parks are breathtaking and we get to look out over the Atlantic Ocean.
  • I remember vividly the first time I drove to my Dartmouth Legal Aid office and saw the early morning paddlers on Lake Banook with the sun shining brilliantly on the water. Today, even though I’ve seen this view hundreds of times, it still fills me with energy and joy.


Tim Rissesco (Liberal)


Tell us a bit about your personal life – family/job/hobbies, etc…

I am married with two boys in elementary school and we have lived in Dartmouth since 1997 (with 1 year out to try country living, but we missed Dartmouth too much). I have spent the last 3 years as the Executive Director of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission working to make Dartmouth a more vibrant place to live by encouraging residential development, new businesses and special events like Switch.

I enjoy volunteering and community service, so I do not have a lot of time for other hobbies. I am an active member of the Dartmouth Kiwanis Club, a member of the Crichton Park Elementary School Advisory Committee, a Beaver Leader, Board Member and fundraiser for Margaret’s House, Chair of the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting, Chair of the Natal Day Festival, and treasurer of the Dartmouth Book Awards. I have been involved in many of these organizations for a number of years. I want to give back to the community in ways that benefit youth, help those that need help and contribute to a sense of pride in Dartmouth.

My past community volunteer activity includes the Dartmouth Community Health Board, the HRM Special Events Advisory Committee, the Shubenacadie Canal Commission, the University of King’s College Board of Governors and the Nova Scotia Student Aid Advisory Committee.

What made you decide to run in this by-election?

I have a strong desire to give back to the community. My community volunteer work led me to my position with the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and my work downtown along with my continued community service has led to me to run to represent Dartmouth South. I can contribute even more for Dartmouth South as its voice in the Legislature.

The new school in Southdale, the investment in the Dartmouth General Hospital, and the establishment of the Ocean Technology Innovation Centre at the former Coast Guard Base along with incredible growth of new shops openings downtown during my time as the Executive Director of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission have created momentum – I want to work with the government to continue this momentum.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing Dartmouth South at the moment and what, if elected, would you do to improve matters?

I’m hearing three issues as I speak with people in Dartmouth South: education, health care, and the economy.

First, I will work with the government and the community to ensure we keep making targeted investments in education that help our children. The government is reinvesting $65 million in education. I want to make sure our students have more resources and smaller classrooms. As your MLA, I want to see the new school in Southdale have a breakfast program, so no child will be struggling to learn while hungry.

Second, the government needs to continue making targeted health care investments.

The Liberal government is making progress on the Dartmouth General – renovations are already underway. I look forward to seeing this work continue.

I will work to ensure the government continues to make investments in the refurbishment of seniors manors, and money is re-invested in home care. I will make it a priority to connect with the Seniors population both in assisted living facilities and in the community to bring their concerns to government.

Finally, I want to see more investments in recreation and other programs that will mean a healthier Dartmouth South.

I will also be a strong proponent for the development of the Ocean Technological Innovation Centre on the former Coast Guard Lands. Developing an ocean tech hub in Dartmouth will mean tremendous economic opportunity for the people of Dartmouth.

What is your position regarding support for arts and culture initiatives? Would you endorse financial support for the arts and culture sector?

Arts and Culture are important to our community, reflect who we are and contribute to pride in the community. I have experience working in downtown Dartmouth supporting Prismatic and Nocturne, as well as Concerts in the Park and public art projects. The Arts community is part of our vibrant community.

The government has worked with industry to develop a new film and television fund. It’s based off a model used in Alberta and we believe it will help the industry grow. I also support the continued investment in animation and digital media.

Finally, we need to support our province’s entire creative economy – there is now incentives and supports for musicians and publishers that didn’t exist before.

Do you use social media, and do you expect it will play an important role in this campaign?

Yes, I have a twitter account, @dartmouth_tim, and a facebook page. Social media will be as important in this campaign as in any election. However, my focus is on connecting and re-connecting with people personally during the short campaign.

What’s the best thing about Dartmouth South?

The best thing about Dartmouth South is its sense of community. People support one another. I see it in the: incredible support given to Margaret’s House; the support people give to young entrepreneurs opening new businesses in downtown Dartmouth; and in the pride shown for our public spaces and Dartmouth identity.