Talking politics in Bay Roberts
Mayoral candidates square off in first-ever debate
Many concerned citizens jammed into the Royal Canadian Legion in Bay Roberts for the first-ever candidate’s forum on Sept. 17.
Each of the nine at-large candidates and the two mayoral candidates made their cases for election and lobbied for support ahead of
municipal elections on Sept. 24.
The event started at 7:30 p.m. and took some two-and-a-half hours to finish up. The crowd was energized for the event, and eager to pose questions and raise concerns with each of candidate.
Some 100 engaged citizens, including town officials, retiring councillors, and even a mayoral candidate from a nearby community, crammed into a hot and humid Legion building with the intention of taking candidates to task on a variety of issues.
After opening statements from each candidate, residents rose to ask questions of their prospective municipal leaders.
The most notable question was directed at Deputy Mayor Bill Seymour. He was asked whether there would be nepotism should his son, Geoff Seymour, be elected to the mayor’s chair, or would he disagree with certain issues.
Bill immediately countered, saying if he didn’t agree with an issue, he would not vote for it.
Other hard-hitting topics concerning Bay Roberts were covered including how to best address a growing drug problem in the community, traffic issues along Country Road and the proposed business park.
One topic sparked controversy and rose the temperature of many in the gallery. It concerned the supposed double purchase of a piece of land in the community, which is alledged to have cost taxpayers a substantial amount of money.
The highlight of the event was the muchanticipated mayor’s debate between incumbent Mayor Philip Wood and the challenger, Geoff Seymour.
After opening statements by both candidates, Geoff questioned Wood on accountability and transparency in the current council.
Wood countered with questions on Geoff ’s leadership qualifications, as he has no previous experience in municipal politics.
Both Wood and Geoff handled themselves in a cool and calculated manner, responding to each question as they came with informative and passionate answers.
Once the debate was finished, it became clear that both candidates were well-equiped to handle the duties that come with the chain-of-office.
Having their say
Each at-large candidate was given a fiveminute window to give the packed house more information about themselves.
Fresh faces Hayward Butler, Charlene Dawe-Roach, Gerald Fennemore, Dean Franey, George Simmons and George Warford handled themselves with poise.
Meanwhile, incumbents Bill Seymour and councillors Walter Yetman and Wade Oates handled pointed questions with composure.
Afterwards, some onlookers were overheard saying the new blood had helped themselves in the polls and would make the decision hard on election day.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood (right) listens intently as challenger Geoff Seymour answers a question during the town’s mayoral debate at the Royal Canadian Legion in Bay Roberts on Sept. 17. Wood, Seymour and the nine candidates running for at-large positions were a part of the first-ever candidate’s forum.