Municipal election races heating up
Council ballot features 13 names, including four incumbents
The first round of nomination days came and went last week, with several communities in the Trinity-Conception ia area finalizing their list of candidates. There are sure to be some interesting election battles to keep an eye on, as you’ll find out in a few stories spread throughout this week’s edition of The Compass.
A councillor nearing the end of his first four-year term is ready to challenge the current mayor of Bay Roberts for the town’s top elected position.
Mayor Philip Wood and Coun. George Simmons are going head-to-head in the upcoming municipal election. Voters in Bay Roberts will have plenty of decisions to make, as there’s also a full slate of 13 candidates vying for the remaining six council seats.
Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman is seeking re-election, as are councillors Charlene DaweRoach, Dean Franey and Wade Oates. Coun. Bill Seymour recently confirmed to The Compass his decision to retire from politics after 24 years on council. Also running this year is Silas Badcock, Danny Butler, Jake Collins, Frank Deering, Gerald Fennemore, Jim Francis, Travis Howell, James Murphy and Geoff Seymour.
Mayor Wood, a former teacher and school administrator, first joined Bay Roberts council in a 2008 byelection. He was elected again the next year and, following Glenn Littlejohn’s move into provincial politics, became the town’s mayor in 2011. He won the 2013 mayoral race, handily defeating
“I’m certainly very, very happy to stand on my record, my accomplishments and achievements during my time on council and as mayor,” he told The Compass last Thursday, one day after nominations closed. “I think the town has done well in the past number of years. We’ve certainly shown a lot of growth.”
He highlighted the return of a full-time RCMP detachment to Bay Roberts as a major get for the town. In terms of municipal services, Wood identified curbside recycling pick up as a good initiative introduced over the last four years. He also made mention of special tax discounts for seniors, drinking water improvements, the Goose Pond walking trail, recreation upgrades, water and sewer upgrades, ongoing roadwork and the town’s strong financial position.
“As I say, I’m certainly proud of the record, and I certainly don’t take credit for all that. I think it takes a council and it takes the staff to implement some of those things.”
His career in teaching informed his leadership style, Mayor Wood said. He also emphasized the importance of committing yourself fully to the role of mayor, noting it involves a lot of hours.
“I think that’s very important, because it’s more than just attending some meetings on a Tuesday night. It takes much more than that.”
Looking ahead to the next four years, Wood wants to continue with necessary infrastructure upgrades. Advocating for the replacement of Coley’s Point Primary will be on his agenda, and he also wants to see the town’s business park project gain some traction.
Coun. Simmons, a retired RCMP officer who spent 36 years on the force, was first elected in 2013.
“All of my working life has been working with and serving the public,” Simmons said when asked why he decided to run for mayor. “I felt that I had the energy and the commitment to step forward and to carry it to the next level.”
Simmons admitted to learning a lot over those four years about the inner workings of a municipality, and he believes there’s still more to learn on the job. A former commanding officer for the Trinity-Conception RCMP detachment, he considers himself a strong leader.
“I see myself as bringing an air of inclusiveness, which means including everybody,” he said. “I see myself as bringing leadership, a determination, and I believe that I bring a lot of integrity. My main focus will be on honesty and transparency.”
Like Wood, Simmons is pleased to see that Bay Roberts is in such a strong position financially. He’s also pleased by its continued growth as a community.
“I think there are some initiatives that we need to follow up on, and I would include in those the replacement of the Coley’s Point school, which I believe is a very high priority.”
Simmons wants more concrete action to address wastewater treatment in order to comply with new federal regulations. He also sees roads, pedestrian safety and policing as issues that need to be addressed.
“My key focus on council is working for and with people and understanding the needs of people and trying to help wherever I can,” he said. “Along with that, in any way, moving the town forward so we can be better situated in the future. I guess I’ve learned a few things, and I’ve got lots left to learn, but that’s a process.”
The advance poll in Bay Roberts is Sept. 23, with election day across Newfoundland and Labrador scheduled for Sept. 26. Eligible voters unavailable on those days can opt to appoint a proxy voter to vote on their behalf.
Bay Roberts Coun. George Simmons.
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.