The Coast sent all 53 candidates running in HRM’s municipal election the same 15-question survey in order to help their residents and our readers know a little more about who’s running for council. Here’s what Derek Vallis from Dartmouth Centre sent back.
Why should residents of your district vote for you?
I have been invested in the Dartmouth community all of my life. I grew up in Dartmouth Centre, I work and volunteer throughout Dartmouth. Dartmouth is where Beth and I raise our family (sons: Cameron, Aaron and Christian), and I want to contribute more and serve the residents of Dartmouth Centre as their councillor. I have been a sport coach and mentor to youth and have served on and advised many non-profit boards in the areas of governance and risk management. As a lawyer for the past 25 years, I have accumulated a vast breadth of legal experience. I have also run my own law practice and understand the challenges and work ethic required by small business owners to be successful. I worked for the TD Bank Group for just over six years as regional counsel for the Atlantic Estates and Trust Division. This exposed me to workings of the financial services industry first hand. I have served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve for over 32 years in senior leadership positions. The most recent was command of HMCS Scotian, one of the country’s largest and busiest Naval Reserve Divisions with close to 200 sailors and civilians, and an annual operating budget of several million dollars. These leadership experiences have made me keenly aware of the need to effectively lead and work with staff. I have always built bridges with interested parties, bringing diverse groups together to effectively build collaborative solutions to problems. I have always acknowledged the need for fiscal responsibility when dealing with public funds and am well versed in the public budgeting process. I understand the workings of public institutions and the large role risk management plays in every aspect of the day to day operations. My career has been quite diverse and skilled. I have exercised real leadership as a business person, a lawyer and a naval officer. My credentials and breadth of experience are significant. I am certain that given the honour, privilege and responsibility of being the councillor for Dartmouth Centre, I will serve the residents of Dartmouth Centre well.
What’s something you wish people were talking about more this election?
I would like to hear more about engaging youth in the many areas of concern to us. I am happy to say that my three sons have been very engaged in the campaign and have been going door to door with me. They have discussed the issues at the dinner table and they have raised very good questions. They understand the importance of the system and their enthusiasm has rubbed off on their friends. Hopefully this will inspire an awakening.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Poverty and families.
What’s the most accurate criticism someone’s made about you?
I find it difficult to say no when people are seeking help about injustices and I tend to overcommit. I need to find the balance and ask for assistance.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Cheap Trick at the Halifax Forum in 1977.
What was the last movie you didn’t finish?
The Old Lady in a Van
What pisses you off?
Labeling of people based on what they look like, what they do and where they live. We have to embrace all people and their views. Everyone has something to offer.
What’s changed the most in your district since 2012?
Among other things, I would say that the motor vehicle traffic volume and speed has increased. There is also an increased aggressiveness by drivers, making our streets and roads less safe. I have noticed it myself and I am hearing a lot from residents at their doors about this. There is also an increase in the volume of unnecessary vehicular noise in our neighbourhoods. I feel we have to notch up law enforcement and curb this trend.
What’s a specific moment in politics or your professional life that you really regret?
I do not have any regrets. I have been blessed with two wonderful parents who worked very hard to provide me educational opportunities that they never had. Like many local young people, work opportunities in Nova Scotia were not numerous and I considered going elsewhere. Instead, with the help of family and friends I stayed in Dartmouth, built a business, married and started my family.
What’s the last thing that made you really laugh?
Watching my sons experience the unique humour of John Cleese in the Faulty Towers series. To see their fresh response to the humour was hilarious in itself. It was also very satisfying to see them enjoy something as I did when I was their age.
What’s your go-to meal when cooking?
Anything on the BBQ—year round.
What worries you the most about the Halifax Regional Municipality and the issues it's facing?
I am concerned that we are leaving people behind because of their job and income. I grew up in a sub division where a painter lived next to a Navy Petty Officer, an accountant, a biologist and an insurance agent. Developments seem to focus too much on the same income levels and accordingly, leave out those with less means. I think we need to address this with new developments and ensure affordability for middle and low earners. Whether tax rebates or deferred payment programs, I am willing to investigate this further as councillor.
How would you describe your opponents in this race?
Friendly and dedicated.
What’s something you don’t know, but want to learn?
I would like to learn to surf. I love boogey boarding, and would like to find the time to do the real surfing thing. I also note that Lawrencetown Beach is only a short drive from Dartmouth Centre.
What do you promise NOT to do if elected?
I am partaking in the biggest job interview of my life. As their councillor, my duty is to the residents of Dartmouth Centre. I promise not to make promises I cannot keep. I promise not to squander their tax dollars and I promise not to focus on one part of Dartmouth Centre to the detriment of the others. The entire district is important to me and will receive my diligent attention!