Record numbers on Harbour Grace ballot
Seventeen names, stiff competition for council
With 17 names on the ballot in Harbour Grace — 15 for councillor and two for mayor — the town’s residents will have the opportunity to make some significant changes in the council chamber on Sept. 24.
Returning officer Lester Forward said he’s quite happy to see such a large selection of candidates, noting that having s ix females on the ballot is a first for the town. He also cannot recall having so many names for voters to choose from.
“In my 30 years here I do not remember a time when there were that many people nominated,” Forward told The Compass, adding it might be the largest ballot the town has ever seen.
He a lso noted there is one change he would have preferred.
“I would have liked to see a woman’s name (on the mayor’s bal- lot),” Forward admitted. “But we do have a good selection of candidates to choose from.”
Voters will have to make their choice between six incumbents, eight newcomers and two former councillors, which could see an entirely new council. Walter Walsh announced he would not be seeking re-election last month.
The only position guaranteed to go to a former member of council is the mayor. Incumbent Mayor Don Coombs is facing current Deputy Mayor Terry Barnes for the chair.
Coombs has been mayor for five terms while Barnes has one term as deputy mayor under his belt.
Barnes has previously stated he decided to run after some con- stituents told him they wanted to see change and hoped he would be the one to bring it about.
Contrary to that, Coombs has heard others in the town tell him they are satisfied with what he has done thus far.
A few surprises were revealed when the hopefuls, including a previous deputy mayor, school teachers and a former fire chief, among others, threw their hats in the ring.
The town has been all-abuzz for more than a week about who would take the plunge after signs were erected over the town with many well-known residents faces on them.
Those on the ballot are: Hayward Blake; Albert ( Bud) Chafe (incumbent); Ann Coombs; Mary Cornish-Havmand; Patrick Haire; Wendell Hunt Sr. (incumbent); Paul Kennedy; Tony McCarthy; David Murphy (incumbent); Joan Short (incumbent); Mary Shute; Gordon Stone; Kathy Tetford; Shawn Vaters and Sonia Williams.
“This is what democracy is all about,” Forward said. “When more people put their names on the ballot, more people turn out to vote. And that is how it should be.”
The incumbent mayor of Harbour Grace, Don Coombs (right), chats with Town Manager and Returning Officer Lester Forward (left) about the nomination package for candidates. Thomas Short (centre) and Paul Ash (not pictured) stand by after signing nomination forms to officially put Coombs back on the ballot.