Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood takes pass on Liberals

Say he was tempted, remains committed to municipal politics

Terry Roberts
Published on August 29, 2014
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.
Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass

He's only 59, a proven leader and highly respected throughout much of the provincial electoral district of Port de Grave.

He's also long been connected with the provincial Liberals, a party which has seen its political fortunes surge in recent years as the governing Progressive Conservatives continue to reel from four consecutive byelection defeats and plummeting polling numbers.

So as the day draws near for the party to call nominations for the district, many observers felt it was Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood who held all the cards, and was best situated to return the district to the Liberal fold when the 2015 election rolls around.

Indeed, everywhere he went, Wood was being questioned by citizens about whether he would throw his hat into the nomination ring and join a battle already being contested by five Liberal hopefuls — Justin Butler, Kay Crane, Lee Efford, Tony Menchions and Pam Parsons.

Howard Smith of Upper Island Cove also announced Friday he will be seeking the nomination.

But after weeks of anticipation, Wood finally revealed his decision at the the conclusion of the Aug. 27 town council meeting — he's staying in the mayor's chair.

“I did give it some consideration,” Wood told his fellow town councillors. “However, after discussing it with family and friends, I have decided to stay exactly where I am.

“I am proud and happy to be mayor of this town. It was only a year ago I was elected.”

Wood said there are a number of important issues on council’s agenda, including a business park, a wellness centre and much more, and “I’d like to see what we can do to make them a reality.

“I look forward to working with you for next three years,” he added.

Wood is a retired educator, having served as an administrator at seven schools throughout his career, including Ascension Collegiate. He was elected to council in a byelection in September 2008, and was named deputy mayor after his re-election in the fall 2009 general election.

He took over the mayor's chair on an acting basis in 2011 after former mayor Glenn Littlejohn took a leave of absence to campaign in the provincial general election. Littlejohn was subsequently elected as the PC MHA for Port de Grave on Oct. 11 of that year, and in a show of confidence, Wood's fellow councillors unanimously supported a motion to have him serve out the remainder of the term as mayor.

Wood received a strong endorsement from the voters last fall when he easily won a two-way race for the mayor's chair.

After last week's council meeting, Wood acknowledged he gave serious consideration to seeking the Liberal nomination, and said he was humbled by the outpouring of support coming his way. But in the end, he said it wasn't meant to be.

His decision seemed to sit well with his fellow councillors, with Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman saying, "I look forward to working with you and having you in the mayor's chair for the next three years."