Barnes to seek mayor’s post
Veteran Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs not about to go quietly
Terry Barnes has served notice that he’s ready to take on the top elected post in the Town of Harbour Grace, but the man who has occupied the mayor’s chair for nearly 19 years, Don Coombs, says he’s not ready to go away quietly, and contends he still has some unfinished business.
Barnes is the deputy mayor, and is completing his first term on council. He was elected with widespread support in 2009, topping the polls among council contenders with 919 votes.
In a news release issued to The Compass on June 4, Barnes thanked citizens for supporting him in the last election, and touted his commitment to council over the past four years.
The release also contained the following statement: ”I would like to formally announce that I will be seeking the mayor’s chair …”
When contacted, Barnes said he has learned plenty in his first term, and feels ready to lead the town for the next four years.
He believes developments such as the new stadium, an adult addictions centre and a proposed expansion to a welding and marine service business in the town bodes well for the future. He hopes to lead an effort to attract more business. “Positive things are happening,” he said. Barnes emphasized that his candidacy has nothing to do with the job being done by the current mayor.
“He’s done wonderful for the town,” Barnes stated. “But I think it’s time for a change.”
Barnes, 47, has lived in Harbour Grace since his mid-teens, and is a supervisor with a major fish processing company in the province. He is encouraged by the level of support and encouragement he’s receiving, but is not taking anything for granted.
“If people give me the support like last time, I’ll do OK,” he said.
Barnes was unsuccessful in a bid for council in 2005, and also considered a run for the mayor’s chair more than a decade ago, though he withdrew prior to voting day.
“I love this town, and I defend it and promote it whenever I can,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Coombs was quick to confirm he will be once again be on the ballot when contacted last week, saying he wants to see the new stadium completed, and continue to tackle several other issues he sees as a priority for the town.
Coombs was not surprised by Barnes’ announcement, saying he has been challenged by deputy mayors in the past, calling it a natural “stepping stone” for those who occupy the post.
“I encourage anybody to run. That’s democracy,” he said.
Coombs, 57, is employed with the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Foundation. He was first elected to council in 1989, and took over as mayor on Jan. 5, 1995. He was challenged for the mayor’s post by former councillor and deputy mayor Kathy Tetford in 2005 and 2009, but won handily on both occasions.
It’s believed that at least one other resident is seriously considering running for mayor, which is selected by a separate ballot.
There is a distinct buzz in the town about the upcoming election, and Coombs is encouraged by the level of interest.
“I’ve heard a lot of names, some good quality names, on the street. I encourage them all to come forward,” he said.
He’s also aware that his re-election is by no means a guarantee.
“Some people have joined forces to lobby against me, and that’s fine There are people who don’t like Don Coombs as mayor and believe I’ve been there too long. But for me it’s nothing per- sonal, and I’m just hoping for a clean election and I wish (Terry) all the best.”
Meanwhile, Coun. David Murphy confirmed last week he will be seeking re-election. Attempts to reach other members of council, including councillors Wendell E. Hunt, Joan Short, Albert “Bud” Chafe and Walter R. Walsh were unsuccessful.
Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs, pictured here during a November 2012 council meeting, will face a challenge from the deputy mayor, Terry Barnes, in September’s municipal election.
Terry Barnes, the deputy mayor of the Town of Harbour Grace, announced last week he will challenge for the mayor’s chair in September’s municipal election.
Coun. David Murphy was first elected to the Harbour Grace town council in 2003. He confirmed last week he will seek re-election in September.
Coun. Walter R. Walsh could not be reached last week, but Walsh has stated in the past he will not seek reelection in September.