Smith-sey­mour show­down a close one

Spa­niard’s Bay mayor elected by 12-vote mar­gin of vic­tory

The Compass - - OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Ed­i­tor’s note: It was learned late Fri­day that a pro­vin­cial court judge in Har­bour Grace had granted a ju­di­cial re­count of the votes cast in the mayoral race in the Town of Spa­niard’s Bay. The re­count will take place on Wed­nes­day, Oct. 2. De­feated can­di­date Brenda Sey­mour is al­leg­ing there was tam­per­ing with the doc­u­ments at a polling sta­tion in Til­ton.

De­spite his nar­row vic­tory, J. Wayne Smith be­lieves vot­ers in Spa­niard’s Bay made the right de­ci­sion by elect­ing him as mayor of the grow­ing Con­cep­tion Bay North town.

Smith served nearly a quar­ter­century as the town’s clerk/man­ager, has four years’ ex­pe­ri­ence as a town coun­cil­lor, and said he comes to the job with the right at­ti­tude.

“No­body knows the town any bet­ter than me as far as the in­fra­struc­ture and the peo­ple,” Smith said on Thurs­day, Sept. 26, two days af­ter ek­ing out a 12-vote mar­gin of vic­tory over op­po­nent Brenda Sey­mour in the race for mayor.

The may­oralty con­test was a back-and-forth af­fair as the polling sta­tions started re­port­ing on the night of Sept. 24.

Smith and Sey­mour were prac­ti­cally neck-and-neck at the polling sta­tions in Spa­niard’s Bay, and on the ad­vance poll. But it was vot­ers in Til­ton that seemed to put Smith over the top, giv­ing him a strong en­dorse­ment at both polling sta­tions in the com­mu­nity.

Sey­mour said she wasn’t ex­pect­ing such a re­sult in Til­ton, where 125 of the 212 votes cast went to Smith.

“I spent three days cam­paign­ing in there,” she said. “It seemed like I had their sup­port. I don’t know what hap­pened. Some­thing must have changed on the end.”

It was a dif­fer­ent story at the polling sta­tions in Spa­niard’s Bay, where Sey­mour edged Smith by a vote count of 413-386.

Sey­mour sug­gested it’s a mes­sage that the new mayor needs to take to heart.

“He’s go­ing to have to do a few things to re­gain their trust,” Sey­mour stated. Smith doesn’t see it that way. “I’ve dealt with the peo­ple for 24 or 25 years and I’ve al­ways tried to be hon­est and fair-minded. I’m still think­ing I’m the best per­son for the job and I can do a good job for the town and for the peo­ple and that’s why I ran,” said Smith.

“I didn’t run to lose and I didn’t run be­cause I had an axe to grind with some­body. I ran to help the town move for­ward and to do as much good as I can.”

Work to do

The new coun­cil is ex­pected to be sworn in dur­ing its first pub­lic meet­ing on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

One of the first or­ders of busi­ness will be to se­lect a deputy mayor, and Paul Brazil is a lead­ing con­tender for the job. The po­lit­i­cal new­comer topped the polls among the nine peo­ple seek­ing one of the six at­large coun­cil seats.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the No. 2 job goes to the can­di­date with the most votes. The man who cur­rently holds that post, Tony Men­chions, fin­ished sec­ond in the vot­ing, 63 votes be­hind Brazil.

As for in­cum­bents, Sey­mour was the only mem­ber of the pre­vi­ous coun­cil not re-elected, while long­time mayor John Drover an­nounced his re­tire­ment some weeks ago.

Smith said it’s a sign that cit­i­zens are largely sat­is­fied with the per­for­mance of their elected of­fi­cials.

Mean­while, coun­cil will have to dive into bud­get prepa­ra­tions, and ef­forts to move for­ward with the pro­posed Vet­eran’s Busi­ness Park will also be high on the agenda.

Smith is en­cour­aged by the lat­est de­vel­op­ment, with Kar­wood Realty of Par­adise tak­ing over a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the on-again, off-again project. He said the man be­hind the con­cept, Brad Roberts, will also play a role.

Smith said one of his first calls af­ter win­ning the elec­tion came from Hu­bert Hussey, owner of Kar­wood Realty.

“We agreed we would get to­gether within the next cou­ple of weeks. He tells me all the pa­per­work is just about com­pleted,” said Smith.

Smith said he’s more op­ti­mistic than ever about the project, and be­lieves it will bring great things to Spa­niard’s Bay and the en­tire re­gion.

He ex­pects that work will be­gin this fall to re­lo­cate util­ity lines run­ning through the park, and site prepa­ra­tion should get un­der­way in the spring.

“We’ve had nu­mer­ous in­quiries, from med­i­cal clin­ics to a the­atre,” Smith noted.

The mayor-elect said one of his top pri­or­i­ties will be to es­tab­lish bet­ter re­la­tions with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing lo­cal MHAs Glenn Lit­tle­john (Port de Grave) and Jerome Kennedy (Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace), with an eye to­ward im­prov­ing the flow of cap­i­tal fund­ing to the town.

He made spe­cial men­tion of the con­di­tion of New Har­bour Road, de­scrib­ing it as “ter­ri­ble.” The road is a vi­tal link to Vet­er­ans High­way.

“(Glenn) has as­sured us that be­tween now and 2015 we would hope­fully get some fund­ing to do some up­grades to that road,” said Smith.

Mean­while, the fol­low­ing is a de­tailed break­down of elec­tion re­sults in Spa­niard’s Bay:

• Mayor — * J. Wayne Smith (607), * Brenda E. Sey­mour (595);

• Coun­cil­lors — Paul Brazil (938), * Tony Men­chions (875), * Eric D. Jewer (729), * Sheri Collins (696), * Tony Do­minix (593) and Lewis E. Shep­pard (530);

• Un­suc­cess­ful can­di­dates — Gary Mercer (519), Su­san Marie Gosse (398) and Delores Strick­land Squires (219);

• To­tal bal­lots cast — 1,216;

• Voter turnout — 62.8 per cent;

• Note — * de­notes in­cum­bent

Wayne Smith is the newly elected mayor of Spa­niard’s Bay.

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