Dudes in the chamber
Carbonear elects all-male council; one of only two towns in region to do so
Carbonear may be the commercial and service hub of the Trinity Conception region, but following last week’s municipal election, it now boasts another distinction that may not be as flattering.
Of the 25 incorporated municipalities in the area from Brigus and Whitbourne in the south to Old Perlican and Bay de Verde in the north, Carbonear is now one of only two towns in the region without any female representation on its town council.
The other is Brigus, though two vacancies are yet to be filled in that town.
By the time votes were counted in Carbonear on Sept. 24, all seven seats available on council went to male candidates, while the three female contenders — Brenda Trickett, Christine Power and Debra Bradbury — were shut out.
There were 12 candidates in the hunt for six at-large council seats, with the females finishing seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. All three candidates for mayor were male.
It’s the first time since 2005 that municipal governance in the town will be overseen by an all-male contingent. In fact, in the 65 years of incorporation, only three females — Nell Finn, Gladys Merer and Betty Forward — have earned a seat on council.
Mercer resigned in 2012, prompting a byelection, while Forward is finishing her one and only term, hav- ing decided not to seek re-election. Surprise win As the town’s first-ever female councillor, Finn has earned a place in the history books for Carbonear. She first broke the electoral barrier in 1973, and remembers feeling surprised that she won a seat.
“I decided to run and thought if I don’t get elected, then I’m no worse off,” she recalled.
Finn was re-elected in 1977, but was unsuccessful in a 1981 campaign.
“I ran for the third time and there were two other women who ran besides me and neither one got elected,” she explained.
A civilian auxiliary vessel out of Long Pond was dispatched to their aid, and just before 7 p.m. on Sept. 25, Woodford and Smith abandoned the Kozy, boarded their inflatable boat, and made their way to the approaching vessel.
It was a successful rescue, but Woodford said it was a close call he would not want to repeat.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on the water, but that was as scary as it gets,” Woodford said Friday morning, staring across the harbour at his wrecked boat, which had been drifting for more than a day.
He identified Carson Noel of St. John’s as the owner of the auxiliary vessel that came to their aid, saying Noel and Keith Williams “saved our asses.”
The rescue vessel was unable to take the Kozy in tow because “they didn’t have the resources onboard,” said Woodford.
The Coast Guard made a couple of attempts to dispatch one of its vessels in order to recover the Kozy, but circumstances forced them to abort each time, said Woodford.
By Friday morning, any hopes of a successful salvage were dashed.
Woodford recovered a small table. That was it.
Both men were just thankful to have lived to tell the tale.
“We had a close call,” said Smith, an experienced fisherman.
Brenda Trickett was a candidate for the Carbonear council election Sept. 24, but she was hit by a truck five days prior, leaving her unable to campaign. She believes her injury contributed to losing a council seat by 21 votes.
Wayne Woodford (second from left) and Rhodie Smith (second from right) of Spaniard’s Bay are seen chatting with two environmental response specialists from the Canadian Coast Guard. They are Dave Humphries (left) and Don Fitzpatrick.