Changes coming to Bay Roberts council
Two veteran councillors stepping away in September; two others undecided
The Compass confirmed last week that two longtime members of the town council in Bay Roberts will not be seeking re-election in September.
As well, two more longtime councillors are still undecided on what they will be doing when the next round of municipal elections are called.
Council stalwarts Clarence Mercer and Melvin Walsh will be stepping away from the table, each having served the town for multiple terms.
Deputy Mayor Bill Seymour and Coun. Gerald Greenland have still not made a decision about whether to place their names on the ballot.
Both Seymour and Greenland have been members of the Bay Roberts council since 1993.
Mayor Philip Wood will be seeking re-election as mayor. It is unknown whether he will be challenged for the chair.
Walsh was elected for the first time in 2001 and will be completing his third term as a councillor.
In that election, Walsh garnered some 902 votes.
He has worked alongside three different mayors — Wilbur Sparkes, Glenn Littlejohn and most recently Philip Wood — in his 12 years as an elected official.
“I’ve worked with three excellent mayors,” said Walsh.
The council liaison with urban municipalities and member of the public works committee, Walsh is looking forward to “doing different things” with his free time come September.
“I’ve enjoyed council for sure, but I’m at the point in my life where I want to enjoy other things,” he said. “I have a place down south and I want to spend more time down there and spend more time with the family. “Just enjoy the rest of my life.” Being with the town since 2001, Walsh has seen the town grow and evolve to the point where it is the largest town in the Trinity Conception region.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve started to organize the town and progress in an organized way,” he said. “I was responsible for redeveloping most of the rules and regulations in the town and I feel proud that we’re moving in a way that will see the town much better in the future.”
In his 12 years as a member of council, Walsh has seen the development of many areas.
“There are more business and more people moving into town,” he said. “Our recreation area has grown. We’ve improved recreation in areas like Butlerville and Shearstown.”
Mercer was first voted in as a councillor in 2005. In that election, Mercer garnered the highest number of votes amongst elected officials with 1,046.
Mercer echoed Walsh’s thoughts when asked about his reasons for not placing his name on the ballot for a third term.
“I have three grandchildren and time is moving on,” he said. “At 60 years old, there is more to life than preparing for council.”
However, just because he is stepping away from the table, does not mean Mercer is stepping away from his town.
“I will be continuing to volunteer for the town because I have a great love for the town,” he said.
Mercer is council’s liaison with the tourism committee and is with the cultural foundation. He said he has enjoyed the eight years he spent on council.
“I think we’ve established quite a bit in this town,” said Mercer.
The development of the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation stands out to Mercer amongst all that he has accomplished in his time of service to the council.
“Since that’s been done, we’ve brought culture alive in the Town of Bay Roberts,” he said.
For evidence of this, one has to but look at the list of activities planned for the rest of this year in the town.
But, Mercer said the evidence of the positive work done by the foundation is not just found in the amount of activities put off.
“We’ve got plans to offer scholarships and so on to students, we’re going into schools, we’re developing projects with the schools. So, this thing has legs, so I’m very proud to be one of the founding members and the chair of that committee.”
Coun. Walter Yetman could not be reached for this story, but he is widely believed to be running for his third term as member of council.
The freshest face on council, Wade Oates, confirmed that he will be seeking re-election.
Oates came on board after winning a byelection in 2011, filling a seat created following the departure of former mayor Glenn Littlejohn, who is now MHA for Port de Grave. “I love it,” said Oates. Retiring councillors will not be the only change around the table in September.
Longtime town clerk Shirley Hawe will also be retiring after 35 years with the town.
Coun. Melvin Walsh
Mayor Philip Wood
Coun. Clarence Mercer
Coun. Gerald Greenland
Deputy Mayor Bill Seymour