Lo­cal may­ors com­ment on Kennedy’s de­ci­sion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY ANDREWROBINSON

The may­ors in MHA Jerome Kennedy’s district of Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace are dis­ap­pointed he will not be seek­ing the lead­er­ship of the pro­vin­cial Tories, but can un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale be­hind his de­ci­sion.

Kennedy, who is also the min­is­ter of Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, an­nounced on Dec. 22 he would not be run­ning for the lead­er­ship post be­cause of the strains it would place on his fam­ily.

“I have to re­spect his rea­sons for it,” says Mayor Don Coombs of Har­bour Grace, adding Kennedy has done a great job for the district since en­ter­ing pol­i­tics in 2007.

“ I was kind of hop­ing he would (run),” adds Coombs’ coun­ter­part in Car­bon­ear, Mayor Sam Slade, who agrees that Kennedy has rep­re­sented the district well.

“It would have meant great things for the area and the prov­ince as a whole.”

Coombs agrees that hav­ing a premier rep­re­sent­ing the district would have been a boon for his com­mu­nity.

As for Kennedy’s chances to win had he run, both Coombs and Slade say he could have won.

“I think he was the front-run­ner,” says Coombs, who be­lieves that was the case from the moment for­mer premier Danny Wil­liams an­nounced he was step­ping down af­ter seven years in of­fice.

Kennedy has served as a high pro­file cabi­net min­is­ter since leav­ing his ca­reer as a St. John’s de­fence lawyer, first han­dling the jus­tice port­fo­lio be­fore mov­ing into fi­nance and health. Since then, he has been in the mid­dle of some heated ex­changes, most re­cently with the New­found­land and Labrador Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion over doc­tor con­tracts.

It may be said in some cir­cles that Kennedy’s pro­vin­cial pro­file took a beat­ing dur­ing the bat­tle with doc­tors, but Slade does not be­lieve those events hurt the health min­is­ter’s rep­u­ta­tion.

“I think a lot of peo­ple are very happy and con­tent that it’s fi­nally over with,” he says of the dis­pute with doc­tors, which had been set­tled by a vote

Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy

the day be­fore Kennedy’s an­nounce­ment.

Both may­ors ex­pect in­terim Premier Kathy Dun­derdale will be the can­di­date for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party in next fall’s pro­vin­cial elec­tion, with Coombs be­liev­ing she will run un­con­tested for the Tory lead­er­ship. Premier Dun­derdale was ex­pected to of­fi­cially an­nounce her can­di­dacy on Dec. 30.

Such thought gained cre­dence fol­low­ing de­ci­sions by Kennedy, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Darin King and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Mar­shall — three of the most pow­er­ful cabi­net min­is­ters in the govern­ment — to throw their sup­port be­hind Dun­derdale. Min­is­ter King, like his coun­ter­part in heath, also cited fam­ily con­cerns as his main rea­son for not run­ning.

“As you get in any level of pol­i­tics, you un­der­stand that fam­ily de­ci­sions are very im­por­tant, and I fully re­spect his de­ci­sion and wish him the best of luck,” says Coombs.

“ When you put your­self out there, there is a com­mit­ment, and fam­ily has to come first,” adds Slade. “ You’re not only putting your­self out in that po­si­tion to be out there all the time, but you’re also putting your fam­ily out there.”

Kennedy told the me­dia on Dec. 22 he will seek re-elec­tion in the Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace district in this fall’s pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

The Tories are ex­pected to hold a lead­er­ship con­ven­tion in the spring.

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