Cam­paign tac­tics rais­ing eye­brows

Car­bon­ear may­oral can­di­date Des­mond Led­well draw­ing at­ten­tion, but not all of it is pos­i­tive

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

The echo of a man’s voice from a loud speaker rings through the open win­dow of a home on Val­ley Road in Car­bon­ear.

Its oc­cu­pants look up from the Fri­day af­ter­noon ren­o­va­tion job they are com­plet­ing to see a full-sized white cargo van out­fit­ted with a boom lift driv­ing at a slow pace. There are cam­paign signs af­fixed to the van.

The voice be­longs to Des­mond Led­well, a rel­a­tive new­comer to the Con­cep­tion Bay North town, but a man who’s name is quickly gar­ner­ing no­to­ri­ety.

He has taken to the street in his busi­ness ve­hi­cle to pro­mote his elec­tion cam­paign, which last week took a con­tro­ver­sial and un­usual twist.

This po­lit­i­cal neo­phyte wants his voice heard and not just through the streets of town. Led­well wants to be mayor.

His style of cam­paign­ing is a throw­back to an ear­lier era of pol­i­tics, and was just one of the quirky an­tics turn­ing heads last week as he at­tempted to lure vot­ers.

His quest for the top elected post in Car­bon­ear be­gan just one hour be­fore the close of nom­i­na­tions on Aug. 28, and it caught many by sur­prise.

The big­gest ques­tion? Who is Des­mond Led­well?

Am­bi­tious un­der­tak­ing

Led­well can usu­ally be seen in a pair of cov­er­alls, a ball cap and work boots, but he demon­strated a very dif­fer­ent per­sona when he ar­rived at The Com­pass of­fice on Wa­ter Street Sept. 5 to dis­cuss his may­oral can­di­dacy.

Led­well had freshly cut locks and wore jeans with a but­ton down shirt, quite dif­fer­ent from his usual at­tire.

He ap­peared ca­sual, but con­fi­dent with a smirk on his face as he en­tered the build­ing.

Many res­i­dents of the town have been chat­ting about this “un­known” man that has stepped up to tackle two very prom­i­nent and pop­u­lar fig­ures — Sam Slade and Ches Ash — for the mayor’s seat in this elec­tion.

Ex­cited to an­nounce his plans, Led­well sat down, took a deep breath and be­gan to re­lay his mes­sage.

Mo­ti­va­tion to run

This tall and slightly cum­ber­some man chose to run for mayor days be­fore the nom­i­na­tion dead­line, stat­ing cur­rent Mayor Sam Slade — his neigh­bour — was a big in­flu­ence.

“I asked Sam, ‘what are you go­ing to do about the roads?’” Led­well said. “He said it takes a lot and there is a lot of red tape. So I asked what he was go­ing to do to help me from beat­ing up my truck.”

Led­well said the only re­sponse Slade would give him is that patch­work and pot­hole fill­ing would be done.

“That’s not a plan Sam,” he said, rais­ing his voice and slam­ming his fist. Led­well said he was in­vited by Slade to a party on elec­tion night, and de­cided at that mo­ment to run for mayor.

“A man who wants to have a party be­fore he’s even elected would never get my vote,” Led­well added. “I like to party too, but I’m not go­ing to cel­e­brate un­til the job is done.”

In fair­ness, the con­di­tion of mu­nic­i­pal roads in Car­bon­ear was a hot topic at re­cent coun­cil meet­ings, and coun­cil has al­lo­cated fund­ing for pot­hole re­pairs, resur­fac­ing and other up­grades.

Al­ready some con­tro­versy

Led­well’s cam­paign strate­gies have raised some eye­brows, but none as much as the posters he taped to build­ings, signs and util­ity poles in the town last week.

One of the posters ref­er­enced an el­derly Car­bon­ear res­i­dent who’s wa­ter was sup­pos­edly dis­con­nected by the town a decade ago, and sug­gested the man “drinks wa­ter from a ditch” and was “left to rot” by the town.

“I will show how easy it is to have his wa­ter re­stored,” Led­well wrote.

“A man who wants to have a party be­fore he’s even elected would never get my vote. I like to party too, but I’m not go­ing to cel­e­brate un­til the job is done.”

– Des­mond Led­well

The man’s name is dis­played very promi­nently atop the doc­u­ment, and Led­well’s sig­na­ture is at the bot­tom.

The Com­pass has de­cided not to pub­lish the man’s name, out of re­spect for him and his fam­ily.

Ac­cord­ing to town of­fi­cials, the contents of the poster are in­ac­cu­rate.

Fam­ily mem­bers of the el­derly man also con­firmed per­mis­sion was not given for Led­well to put up the posters, and the in­for­ma­tion in­cluded on them is false.

Mem­bers of the man’s fam­ily de­clined to speak pub­licly about the posters, but ex­pressed anger that he was be­ing drawn into the cam­paign, and de­scribed the poster’s contents as “slan­der­ous.”

Led­well said he stands by putting up the signs and thinks the back­lash is a tac­tic to have him re­move his name from the bal­lot.

“They’re run­ning scared now,” he stated. “I’m not try­ing to make any­one mad. I’m just try­ing to get help for (the man).”

The plat­form

Led­well has flooded the town with sev­eral dif­fer­ent posters, tak­ing on is­sues such as show­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for vol­un­teers, the need for in­creased fund­ing from other lev­els of govern­ment, in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance, what he sees as a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with res­i­dents by the town, and the up­keep of play­grounds.

Led­well ap­peared pas­sion­ate through­out the en­tire in­ter­view, show­ing anger, frus­tra­tion and sad­ness at all the is­sues he dis­cussed.

As he left, he glanced back over his shoul­der, put up two fin­gers and an­nounced “peace out,” be­fore driv­ing away in his work ve­hi­cle with the speaker still on the roof.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/Spe­cial to The Com­pass

Des­mond Led­well put his name on the mayor’s bal­lot for Car­bon­ear and has been us­ing un­usual tac­tics to garner sup­port.

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