Nominations for New Brunswick's delayed municipal election won't open for another month and a half, but Saint John's outgoing mayor says potential candidates should speak up now.

"It's time for candidates to start announcing their intentions so that citizens have ample time to get to know them and how they believe they add value to council," said Don Darling during a Wednesday news conference in Saint John's council chambers.

With New Brunswick's municipal election scheduled for May 10, candidates are required to file their nomination papers with Elections New Brunswick between March 22 (when returning offices open) and April 9 at 2 p.m.

"We need to encourage the right people to run even if they have never considered it before," said Darling, who announced his decision to not re-offer in March 2020. "The closer we get to this election, the more I'm dwelling on the importance of ensuring that our next council is the best it can be."

ANOTHER PANDEMIC ELECTION IN N.B.

Elections New Brunswick is preparing to hire about 5,000 people to staff the May 10 vote.

"We started training our returning office staff this week," said Kim Poffenroth, New Brunswick's Chief Electoral Officer, who led Canada's first COVID-19 provincial election on September 14.

"The procedures around public health guidelines have evolved since August and September," she said, adding Elections New Brunswick's new pandemic plan would emulate the province's recovery level phases to some degree.

"We can't just provide information to our returning office staff for what the present conditions are," said Poffenroth. "We had to take into consideration what the public health guidelines are now for all the different phases and incorporate that into our advice."

Elections New Brunswick said more information about those changes, as well as COVID-19 guidelines for candidates campaigning, will be released soon.

Mail-in voting is expected to be popular once again, and changes are being introduced to allow more options for providing that critical virtual signature.

"They'll actually be able to do that from any type of electronics, whether it be a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone," said Poffenroth.