Talk­ing pol­i­tics in Bay Roberts

May­oral can­di­dates square off in first-ever de­bate

The Compass - - SPORTS - Nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

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.

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