© Compass file photo
For the first time in 20 years Don Coombs will not be the mayor of Harbour Grace.
On the heels of Jerome Kennedy’s resignation this week, locals have begun discussing who they would like to see take a seat in the provincial house of assembly to represent the Carbonear-Harbour Grace district.
Some names have been in the shuffle for a while, but it is unknown at this time how many of them are actively seeking a nomination bid.
Former and current local leaders have been rumoured to be taking the leap into provincial politics, some after a long stint on municipal councils and others just out of the gate.
Criticisms of Kennedy
Former Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs admits he has not been very supportive of Kennedy.
“It’s quite well known that Jerome and I did not get along,” Coombs explained. “He was difficult to reach as a mayor and as a joint council.
“I would, however, like to congratulate him on the hospital, and I hope his commitments to the region will be lived up to.”
Coombs, who has worked with four MHAs in his 24 years on council, noted Harvey Street in the town was supposed to be finished two years ago and hopes the government will keep its promise to complete it.
Two other things he hopes will stay on track are the addictions centre — a contract that was awarded in May 2012 to plan and develop the centre at a cost of $1.7 million — and the new stadium at a cost of $21 million, for which ground is expected to be broken this month.
“I can tell you from a personal perspective, I feel that a representative of the district should live in the district,” Coombs said.
Municipal politicians respond
Carbonear Mayor Sam Slade said he had not spoken to Kennedy regarding his decision to leave politics, but did say he has a lot of respect for him.
“As you can see, a new school, health care facility,” he said. “I have to attribute that to Jerome.”
When asked if he was considering a run at the MHA position, Slade said he has not given it any thought but if he does, it's expected to be for the Liberals.
“I just went through the mayor’s election where I’m quite beaten out,” he explained. “Now I just have to get the council in order and get work done on behalf of the Town of Carbonear and its residents.”
Another Carbonear council member, and brother to Kennedy, David Kennedy has said he has “not given any consideration to the byelection,” when asked if he would run.
One thing is certain: David would like to see another Progressive Conservative enter the house after the byelection.
“It is important that we get a capable PC member elected in the byelection," David wrote in an email. "A person who has the contacts and ability to speak for our district and hopefully continue to get worthy projects for our residents and finish the ones still ongoing.”
Victoria Mayor Barry Dooley said he was surprised when Kennedy resigned. He said he did think Kennedy might step back from his cabinet post and take a smaller role.
“It is a surprise to see him step down and totally resign,” Dooley said.
He did, however, say there were some things the town was in discussions about with Kennedy, and he hopes the government will follow through with them.
Dooley also believes it doesn’t matter what political party wins the byelection, there are things that will have to be done in the district.
“Personally speaking, if we have an MHA who is doing their job well, I don’t think it matters what colour they carry,” he explained. “There’s going to need to be infrastructure and that has to be done whether you’re in the opposition or (presiding party)."
There have been several people discussed in recent days that may be looking to place their name on the ballot, but the most prominent has been Coombs himself.
After losing the mayoral race in Harbour Grace he did tell The Compass, “You have not heard the last of Don Coombs.”
Coombs has admitted he received a significant number of calls and emails, and he said he is considering a run. He has not decided which party he would be backing at this time, adding he's "kicking a few more tires" before he makes up his mind.
It's been suggested by some that provincial Liberal leader hopefuls and members of the Progressive Conservative party have been in contact with Coombs looking to recruit him.
Coombs— who has been a vocal PC supporter in the past — would not confirm this as of Friday.
Attempts to contact party leaders and hopefuls have been unsuccessful.
Other names in the mix
There have also been other names thrown out from the area, including Kennedy’s Executive Assistant Jack Harrington, Olympic gold medalist Jamie Korab, former Liberal candidate Dr. Phil Earle and Carbonear town councillor Ray Noel.
Harrington has confirmed he’s considering the nod for the PCs and will decide “very shortly.”
“I’ve been getting a lot of encouragement, a lot of phone calls,” he said. “I’ve been around the district and I’ve got to know a lot of people over the past five years.
“(Kennedy) has brought a lot of infrastructure to the whole district and there’s still work to be done. I would like to be there to carry on and make sure the work is completed."
Korab also confirmed he is "seriously considering" running in the district as well and will be making an announcement with his decision this week.