Jarod Guillette Announces Bid for City Council

Jarod Guillette hopes to bring his background in urban planning to good use for the City of Calais. He is shown here with wife Eun Ju and daughters Leah and Hannah. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

A new contender has entered the ring in the bout for Calais City Council, which has two seats open for determination in November. Jarod Guillette is aiming to share his experience as an urban planner working in marginalized communities to help the city move into a brighter future.

Personal history

Born in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Guillette moved to Calais when he was eight. He attended school here through his freshman year before enrolling at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, from which he later graduated. From there, he attended Dalhousie University, focusing on chemistry and biochemistry before ultimately graduating with a degree in urban design. He continued his graduate education at Iowa State University. While there, he met Eun Ju, who would later become his wife. When Eun Ju was unable to renew her student visa, Guillette traveled with her to South Korea. The couple started their family in South Korea with the birth of Leah, and Guillette continued on to complete a professional degree in Landscape Architecture at Seoul National University in 2016. They returned to Calais in 2016. Since then, their family has grown by another daughter, Hannah.

Since returning to the Calais area, Guillette has worked as a freelance reporter for The Calais Advertiser, covering municipal meetings and community events. He now works full-time as the science teacher at Indian Township School and as a consulting landscape architect and urban designer for Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission in St. Stephen.

While in South Korea, Guillette worked extensively in urban design and urban revitalization in low-income communities, including green infrastructure development. In Iowa, he worked for the university doing urban design and business revitalization work for inner-city communities. Other past work includes serving as a field ecologist for Parks Canada.

Interest in running for City Council

Asked why he decided to run for City Council, Guillette described the pivotal scenario. “I went to several city council meetings asking for ‘Slow / Children Playing’ signs, repeatedly. And I never got them. I don’t want kids to be hit by cars. That’s a basic thing.”

Guillette continued by addressing the situation more broadly. “I’ve also noticed that the Calais that I grew up in and the Calais that I live in now and the Calais that I want my children and everyone else’s children to grow up in is vastly different,” he explained. “I think we live in a time of promising opportunity but a lot of challenges that are not being met creatively.”

Guillette spoke on the lack of opportunities available for children and young adults and how that contributes to drug and alcohol abuse and premarital sex. He noted the declining population of the city, including the absence of a professional class. He indicated that the police force is “understaffed and overworked,” contributing to unsafe situations.

Exploring new solutions

With his academic and professional background consisting of a fusion of science and community planning, Guillette sees several areas where Calais could move toward a more robust future. “I don’t think that pot shops are really the number one best economic investment for our city, at all. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but if that’s all that there is – ecosystems survive based on diversity, and cities are no different. We need a diversity of amenities, a diversity of services and a diversity of activities.”

Guillette expressed that being a part of the Planning Committee would be a natural fit for his background. “We have such great architectural inventory, but our downtown languishes. Why is that? It’s a planning issue. There are things that can be done with a municipal plan that I have not seen be done to make the downtown work.” Guillette described some potential solutions, including developing shared office spaces or makerspaces that would harness the productive capability of individuals without requiring significant personal investment. “If we can combine our resources, if we can cooperate, if we can share... As a biologist, I can tell you that species that are altruistic and mutualistic tend to fare better.”

Guillette’s second primary interest is serving on the Public Safety committee to advocate for emergency services. “We need a more robust police force if we think we’re going to handle the challenge of protecting this area. We need a stronger police force.”

One of Guillette’s goals is to restore a sense of decorum and eloquence to the City Council meetings through focused communication. “You can be even more effective and even more direct when you are polite, when you are syntactically correct, and when you speak with purpose,” he explained. “I will not sit on council and guffaw, guffaw, guffaw. I will not use slang. I have been to council meetings and heard vulgar terms. Four letter words. On record. I’m thinking to myself, ‘You’re a public official. Have a clean mouth in the public eye.’  I’m a school teacher. I don’t yell at kids, I don’t swear at kids.”

 

In conclusion, Guillette summarized what votes will get if they elect him on November 6th. “If the voters chose me over my opponents, they would be getting somebody who has a broad background working in cities from the size of Podunk to Metropolis. They’d be getting somebody who is great working with diverse communities. They would be getting somebody who has a very diverse background and experience that I don’t think a lot of my opponents have. And I’m not discrediting their experience as not valid. At the end of the day, who do you want to elect: somebody who’s got this much of a resume, or somebody who does one thing – and they may do it well, but I do a lot of things well. And that’s what you have to do as a city planner. Be a very good generalist. Be able to speak to different people. And I don’t see that that’s what we’re doing enough of.”