2010 grade: B+
2009 grade: B-
2008 grade: B
2007 grade: C

Gloria McCluskey is irreplaceable. With her long stints as mayor of the former city of Dartmouth and as an assessor, McCluskey brings history, perspective and knowledge to council discussions that literally no one else has. She was an invaluable resource, for example, in last year’s “tax reform” debate, and had a deep philosophical understanding of the issue that eluded other councillors completely. She repeated that performance this year in the council size debate.

But being irreplaceable is different from being a great councillor. She ably represents her district (I live in it), but McCluskey is increasingly putting comparatively petty district concerns above the collective good of the city. She spoke against the new library, apparently because it’s not in Dartmouth. Ditto for the skating oval. She insisted that the multi-million dollar cost overrun for the Bridge Terminal was regrettable but no reason to kill the project, while she condemned a $650,000 park-and-ride project in Timberlea as too expensive. Her objections often have more than a little truth to them, as when she faulted the cockamamie financing scheme for the Washmill underpass (it stretched the business park fund in novel ways), but then she pegs them as an affront to Dartmouth (the scheme took money from Burnside, she said). The excessive parochialism is becoming tiresome.

How to improve: Accept that Dartmouth is part of HRM, and we’re all in this together.

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