Lots of interest in Spaniard’s Bay mayor’s seat
Nineteen candidates altogether for seven spots on council
SPANIARD’S BAY, NL — In the aftermath of a four-year term that wasn’t short on controversy, many residents of Spaniard’s Bay are interested in helping form the next town council.
A total of 19 names will be on the ballot Sept. 26 when residents go to the polls. Deputy Mayor Paul Brazil, Coun. Tony Dominix, Todd Crane and Hedley Fong are running for mayor.
Tony Menchions, the town’s mayor for the last couple of years following the resignation of Wayne D. Smith, is not seeking that position this time around, but he’s not done with municipal politics. He’s one of 15 candidates for the other positions on council.
Current councillors Eric Jewer, Lewis Sheppard, Brenda Seymour and Tracy Smith are all seeking reelection. The challengers in 2017 are Charlotte Bishop, Hayward Butler, Derrick Butt, John Churchill, Sherry Lundrigan, Paul Ryan, Danny Smith, David Smith, Darlene Stamp and Jennifer Wilson.
Deputy Mayor Brazil is completing his first four-year term on council. Beyond the council chambers, he’s spent many years spearheading the town’s recreation committee. Brazil is also on the verge of retiring from a position with the Department of Finance.
“I wanted to see if there was a way that we could turn the town around a little bit,” Brazil said when asked why he’s running for mayor. “I’m one of those people who just can’t let go. I’ve been part of this town doing volunteer work, and I suppose I just don’t know when to stop.”
Having watched a spotlight shine on his town following the mass resignation of firefighters and a harassment scandal — subsequently addressed in a report paid for by the town that largely vindicated firefighters — Brazil wants to focus on events that strengthen community spirit.
“We’re not long gone through our Lassy Day concert. That was a success. I suppose we had between 400 and 600 people come participate in that … Same way with the Canada Day celebrations and Canada’s 150th birthday. It was a little bit special this year and we invested a little bit more money into it … We just want to keep that momentum going.”
His desire to first get involved with council focused on sprucing up recreation infrastructure in the community. Brazil has witnessed some improvements there, and he now hopes more attention can be paid to the stagnant business park project, where activity has ceased for at least two years.
Coun. Dominix has been on council for seven years, having served on a variety of committees. He currently installs wind power and solar energy panels for a living and has lived in the community for 25 years. Dominix believes he could do a lot for Spaniard’s Bay as mayor.
“I’ve got good relations with the MHA (Pam Parsons) and the MP Ken McDonald,” he said. “I’m always on them for something, or to try and get something. And I’ve always been for the town trying to get stuff.”
Tourism is an area where Dominix feels the town could do more work, suggesting it should look at hiring an economic development officer to identify opportunities the town is otherwise missing out on. He believes such a position could also help with the business park.
“Other towns have got development officers,” he noted, adding Spaniard’s Bay could explore sharing the cost of that salary with another town interested in benefitting from that service.
Dominix sees a need for Spaniard’s Bay to leave the past behind and look towards opportunities that will boost the town’s prospects and generate revenue for the municipality. He said the town should be more proactive in pursuing ventures that can create jobs in Spaniard’s Bay.
Dominix also believes the town is close to securing the support necessary to fix up and take over the local wharf, which is currently looked after by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Small Craft Harbours. Dominix ties to the local harbour authority stretch back 15 years.
“They’re talking $1.6 million, and when it becomes available, with federal monies, Spaniard’s Bay is on the top of the list. That’s something that I started and I’d like to see finished.”
Crane is a newcomer to municipal politics. Last year, he got involved with the Concerned Citizens of Spaniard’s Bay group that lobbied council to follow through on its promise to order a fire department investigation. He has since attended a number of council meetings.
Professionally, he’s an experienced educator who for the last 11 years worked as an administrator in schools. He’s called Spaniard’s Bay home for 40 years.
“I guess I have a real soft spot for the community and what’s going on in the community,” Crane told The Compass. “I guess that’s why I’ve looked at running for mayor.”
With a desire to spur change in the community, Crane initially intended to seek a regular seat on council. However, with encouragement from others, he’s decided to run for mayor.
“Leadership is a big thing for any town,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of experience with leadership … I’ve dealt with the public. I’m always dealing with parents, politicians, representatives, (and) forming partnerships.”
He would like to work on the business park and address some unanswered questions, create opportunities for young people in Spaniard’s Bay and find ways to enhance recreation. Crane also believes seniors deserve more from the town.
“I think we need to support them in different ways. The things I’m hearing around town, sometimes I feel like these people are forgotten about, and I think we need to bring them into the limelight again.”
As for council, Crane emphasizes the importance of creating an environment where all members can work together.
“We’ve got to forget about it and not embark on the past couple of years, but we’ve just got to move forward.”
The Compass attempted to contact Hedley Fong, but he could not be reached for comment.
Paul Brazil is the current deputy mayor of Spaniard’s Bay.