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