Nfld. & Labrador

Upsets and returning champs in municipal elections

In eastern Newfoundland, municipal leaders were elected on Tuesday night. Some were returning champs, while others were unseated from their roles by newcomers.
Ken McDonald hugs a supporter after winning the mayoral chair in Conception Bay South, ousting Woodrow French. (CBC)

In eastern Newfoundland communities where municipal leaders were elected on Tuesday night, some returned champs, while others were unseated from their roles by newcomers.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe easily fended off a challenge from now former councillor Sheilagh O'Leary.

O'Keefe defeated O'Leary by more than 5,000 votes.

Many O'Leary supporters believe she might have had a better shot running for deputy mayor against Ron Ellsworth, but O'Leary said she was hoping for a big change.

"Well that is certainly one train of thought, it's not mine," she said. "I'm certainly somebody who lives large and dreams big and you know, I knew this council needs to be a council that imparts some real change."

Male-only council for capital city

One of those changes turned out to be no women in council for the first time since 1969.

While O'Leary congratulated O'Keefe, she said council will be missing an important voice.

"[It's] very shameful, honestly," said O'Leary. "It's not to disregard what is happening. I think we have fantastic opportunities with the new council, we've got some new blood in there which is great to see, but we do know that women bring a different voice to the table  they have different experiences."

"And considering that we are 52 per cent of the population and have zero per cent on city council - to me it's just wrong."

In contrast, people in Branch elected all women to their council on Tuesday night.

Election results from the capital city started rolling in after a long wait on Tuesday night, to much anticipation.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe won his seat back on Tuesday night by more than 5,000 votes. (CBC)

Dennis O'Keefe said the long wait for numbers caused some tense moments.

"The vote was a little bit long coming in. From what I can gather it had to do with line-ups at different satellite stations and people having to be sworn in," O'Keefe said.

"The result was a little bit late and I guess that increased the anxiety a little bit for everyone — including myself," he added.

O'Keefe said council will look into reasons for the late election returns and try to solve it for next time.

Previous deputy mayor reinstated

A familiar face is heading back to the deputy mayor's chair in St. John's. Ron Ellsworth is back in the job, four years after a failed bid to become mayor.

Ellsworth thinks voters remembered his record from his previous council stint, and wanted to see more.

"I think people responded to our message that I want to get back and do what I did before — make sure we have strong financial accountability, make sure we brought the community into city hall, and make sure we listen to our community," Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth defeated lone challenger Jennifer McCreath by a wide margin.

Female majority on Marystown council

St. John's city council may be dominated by men, but it's a different story in one community on the Burin Peninsula.

Candidates in Marystown said they heard it on the campaign trail — voters wanted change. 16 candidates ran in this year's election.

Marystown residents voted in five new councillors, including four women.

Linda Slaney, a newly-elected councillor, said the people of the community were looking for change.

"I believe that the people in Marystown, regardless of gender, realized that we have some good candidates that came forward and chose based on that."

Ruby Hoskins was elected as a councillor in Marystown on Tuesday night. (CBC)

Ruby Hoskins, another new councillor in the community, said there are a lot of things on the horizon.

"It's going to be, I think, an interesting four years for our town," Hoskins said.

"Marystown has a lot to be proud of, but we have a lot of work to do and much to get done in the next four years."

Mayor Sam Synard said women bring a different perspective to council. 

"And it's probably a perspective that we've been missing for the last number of years. I think that women look at issues differently, more nurturing in their thought process," said Synard.

Leonard Pittman is the only candidate besides the mayor to be re-elected. 

"It's probably — definitely — a thankless job, but I think the appreciation that you get from someone when you do the slightest little thing for them, even just helping them out with the smallest problem and they really appreciate it, I think that's what it's all about," said Pittman.

Multiple-term mayor ousted in C.B.S

People in Conception Bay South voted Woody French out of office, electing Ken McDonald to the chair by more than 1,500 votes.

French had been mayor for two terms and was favoured for re-election.

Woodrow French was ousted from the mayor's chair in Conception Bay South after serving in the seat for two terms. (CBC)

He said the margin of defeat caught him off guard.

"It's far more than I expected," said French. "At the door we were getting a tremendous response and people seemed to be very happy with the way things were going. There's no controversy within the town, a tremendous amount of money that's come into the town so, it is surprising."

French said while he is disappointed, he remains proud of his accomplishments as mayor.

McDonald believes his efforts on the ground paid off.

"I started knocking on doors the Saturday after Regatta Day," said McDonald.

"I would say I got 95 per cent of the town done door to door, and it paid off. The reception at the door was absolutely phenomenal … and I knew from the first day of door knocking, I knew I could win this race."

McDonald added his priority is to get the town's budget under control.

Easy win for bed-ridden Wabana mayor

Campaigning from a hospital room didn't seem to hurt Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine.

Gosine held the seat, taking more than 50 per cent of the vote and defeating challengers Kay Crane and Teresita McCarthy.

The often-outspoken mayor was admitted to hospital last week for heart problems, and was scheduled for surgery last Friday.

Tight race for Placentia following mayor's retirement

The race for the mayor's chair in Placentia was about as tight as it could be. Only two votes separate the two candidates.

Wayne Power Junior received 972 votes, while Bernard Power got 970.

A recount of the total votes was set to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Long-time Placentia Mayor Bill Hogan did not run for re-election.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?