Two high profile candidates gunning for mayor's chair; nine others in hunt for six councillor posts
Outspoken town councillor Brenda Seymour came forward on nomination day Sept. 3 to ensure the race for mayor in Spaniard's Bay will be a hotly contested and lively affair.
But that's not all she was making headlines for this week, with Brenda and her husband, Martin, helping prevent a crime early Tuesday morning. But more on that later.
Seymour was "on the fence" for several weeks about whether to run for mayor, but said a recent article in The Compass, and encouragement from supporters in the town who wanted a choice on the separate ballot for mayor, were determining factors in her decision to seek the top elected post.
Her opponent, fellow councillor and former town clerk/manager Wayne J. Smith, appeared poised to occupy the mayor's chair without much of a fight just days ago.
Deputy Mayor Tony Menchions had been touted as a possible contender, but announced he did not have time to pursue the job.
It wasn't until Seymour read an article posted to cbncompass.ca on Aug. 22 — it later appeared in the Aug. 27 print edition of The Compass — that she decided to run for mayor.
In the article, headlined "Will Wayne Smith be challenged for mayor in Spaniard's Bay," Smith spoke about the merits of a combined municipality of Spaniard's Bay, Harbour Grace and Upper Island Cove. He also criticized the current provincial-municipal 90/10 cost-sharing formula for infrastructure projects, arguing that it might be time for municipalities to pay a larger share in order to get more projects approved.
— To read the article, visit:
Seymour said the article touched a nerve.
“If I’m that much opposed to what he’s thinking, rather than sit through another term as councillor, I figured I should try to change it. So I decided to go,” Seymour said when contacted today.
Seymour is adamently opposed to amalgamation, but wholeheartedly supports greater regional co-operation.
“Anything we can share, I’m all for it if it means cutting costs. But to unite? I do not see it happening in the near future. The people want to retain their individuality. I think they will work better together if they are separate,” she stated.
For the record, Smith acknowledged there appeared to be very little support for amalgamation, and stated that it was not part of his platform.
A step backward
Meanwhile, Seymour is also opposed to any tampering of the funding formula, calling Smith's views "off the wall."
“I know money is not free these days with the government. The purse strings are closed tight. But that will not be forever, and when it becomes available again, we don’t want to be paying 30 per cent more than we have to pay now. That would be a big step backward,” she said.
Seymour, who turns 49 later this month, was elected to council in 2009, and has made a name for herself as a no-nonsense, forward-thinking municipal leader who's not afraid to speak her mind.
She had a testy relationship at times with outgoing Mayor John Drover and his daughter, Coun. Sheri Collins, over issues such as the town's emergency prepardness plan. Collins is seeking re-election.
She also made provincial headlines several years ago following her dismissal from the volunteer fire department over allegations that she overstepped the chief's authority on the issue of training. She was later reinstated following a review of the situation, and is now a certified Level I firefighter.
She described some of her experiences in recent years as "tumultuous," but noted that she is inspired to "push even harder" when faced with adversity.
If elected, she plans to continue supporting the proposed business park in Tilton, explore ways to better use technology to run the town's affairs, and promote a council that is open and accountable.
"I get the feeling that residents feel disassociated with their council and what goes on up there," she said.
Seymour and her husband, Martin, also made news this week after helping foil what appeared to be an attempted armed robbery early Tuesday morning.
According to a report by CBC News, Brenda called the RCMP after witnessing three men get out of a truck and put masks on their faces outside a convenience store at approximately 5:30 a.m. The Seymours scared the men off, boarded their pickup and followed the three suspects to an unpaved road off Veterans Memorial Highway.
The Seymours blocked the road with their truck, and the RCMP later apprehended the suspects.
Brenda said their reaction is symbolic of her personality, which is to stand up for what she believes in.
"There are people watching and if there's any way of doing anything to thwart their actions, we're going to do it," she told CBC News.
Meanwhile, Seymour will be in tough in her bid to win the mayor's chair, and the outcome is by no means a certainty.
Smith, who turned 65 this past winter, served as the town clerk/manager for 24 years, and was elected to council in 2009.
He could not be reached for comment today, but said he welcomed the challenge from Seymour during a brief conversation at the town hall on Sept. 3.
"It makes me want it even more," he said.
As for the six council seats that are up for grabs, nine candidates are in the running, including four incumbents — Collins, Tony Dominix, Eric D. Jewer and Menchions.
Also seeking a seat are: Paul G. Brazil, Susan Marie Gosse, Gary Mercer, Lewis E. Sheppard and Delores (Strickland) Squires.