Smith-seymour showdown a close one
Spaniard’s Bay mayor elected by 12-vote margin of victory
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.