Char­lene breaks the bar­rier

Bay Roberts wel­comes first fe­male coun­cil­lor in two decades

The Compass - - MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2013 - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­

Head­ing into last week’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions there had not been a fe­male elected to the Bay Roberts town coun­cil for some time.

That is un­til Char­lene DaweRoach be­came the first woman coun­cil­lor in 20 years.

From 1985 to 1993, there were two fe­male coun­cil­lors in Bay Roberts. Betty Gosse served from ’85 to ’93, while Agnes But­ler was an elected mem­ber from 1989-’93.

“It is hum­bling, re­ally,” DaweRoach said of the Sept. 24 elec­tion re­sults.

When the fi­nal bal­lots were counted, she found her­self with a to­tal of 1,086 votes, land­ing her in the fifth spot out of the six avail­able seats.

In what is sure to be a feather in her cap, Dawe-Roach’s to­tal landed her ahead of long­time coun­cil­lor and cur­rent Deputy Mayor Bill Sey­mour.

In “crash­ing the boys’ club,” as she calls it, Dawe-Roach brings a new, fresh voice to the ta­ble, and the fe­male per­spec­tive. “It’s a dif­fer­ent an­gle,” she said. Mayor Philip Wood said a woman’s touch is some­thing the coun­cil has been miss­ing for some time.

“It’s nice to have a fe­male voice at the ta­ble,” he said.

The Co­ley’s Point res­i­dent, along with the rest of coun­cil, will be sworn in on Oct. 8 in Bay Roberts.

She said she is not ner­vous about get­ting started in her new po­si­tion.

“There is a weight of re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Dawe-Roach.

When asked if she wel­comed that weight, she said, “if I didn’t wel­come it, I wouldn’t have asked for it.”

There will be a short time for Dawe-Roach and the other two new coun­cil­lors to learn the ropes. With the bud­get sea­son just around the cor­ner, it will be a steep learn­ing curve in Bay Roberts. Dawe-Roach said she is “ab­so­lutely” look­ing for­ward to her first of­fi­cial meet­ing as a coun­cil­lor.

Get­ting in­volved

Tra­di­tion­ally, coun­cil­lors have to serve on at least one com­mit­tee. While she is not 100 per cent sure of the com­mit­tee process, DaweRoach said she would like to get in­volved on the de­vel­op­ment side of things.

“I’m more into the black and the white of things,” she said.

Coun. Wal­ter Yet­man is the cur­rent coun­cil li­ai­son to the plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee.

Dawe-Roach said she would also be look­ing at ways to ad­dress the grow­ing drug prob­lem in the re­gion, and more specif­i­cally, Bay Roberts.

“I would like to get coun­cil’s po­si­tion, what they did in the past, or the com­mu­nity’s per­cep­tion on the drug is­sue,” she said.

Dawe-Roach said she is look­ing for­ward to help­ing Bay Roberts keep grow­ing and pro­gress­ing.

“My goal in run­ning is to be a part, and con­tribut­ing to the town mov­ing for­ward,” she said.

New term

While it was not the land­slide vic­tory of Car­bon­ear’s Sam Slade, Wood hand­ily de­feated chal­lenger Ge­off Sey­mour by close to 700 votes.

The only polls Wood lost were in Shearstown and But­lerville, where he re­ceived 228 to­tal votes com­pared to Sey­mour’s 450.

“I’m hum­bled in be­ing elected. It’s very sat­is­fy­ing,” said Wood.

The rest of coun­cil for the next four years will be Wal­ter Yet­man (1,563), Dean Franey (1,448), Ge­orge Sim­mons (1,289), the afore­men­tioned Dawe-Roach and Bill Sey­mour (1,079).

“I think it’s a very good group,” said Wood. “There’s a lot of diver­sity there.”

Head­ing into 2014, Wood sees the need to im­prove some ar­eas of the in­fra­struc­ture in Bay Roberts. “It has to be a pri­or­ity,” he said. Wood will also be speak­ing with the RCMP with hopes of es­tab­lish­ing a stand­alone de­tach­ment in Bay Roberts.

“There is a need for an in­creased RCMP pres­ence,” he said.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Co­ley’s Point res­i­dent Char­lene Dawe-Roach is the first fe­male coun­cil­lor in Bay Roberts since 1993.

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