Three candidates in race to lead Bell Island community
Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine was elected by acclamation in the last two municipal elections, and didn’t need to knock on doors and speak with voters in the Bell Island community.
© Steve Bartlett
While he is not knocking on doors this time around either, Gosine’s reasons for not doing so are different. Having spent almost two weeks in hospital waiting to undergo bypass surgery on his heart, Gosine is still active in the mayor’s race, making phone calls from the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s whenever he can.
“Every day I’m in one of the lobbies calling people and sending out proxy votes, whatever it takes,” said Gosine, the town’s only mayor since he was first elected to the position in 1997.
This year there are three candidates for the mayor’s chair in Wabana. Gosine is facing off against the town’s current deputy mayor, Kay Crane, and community volunteer Teresita (Teddy) McCarthy.
Beyond the confines of his hospital room, Gosine has a team in place and vehicles ready to transport voters on election day.
Even if his surgery takes place Friday as anticipated, Gosine will not get out of the hospital until next Wednesday or Thursday. That means he will not be on Bell Island for election day.
“I’ve got to vote by proxy myself.”
As one might expect from an incumbent candidate, Gosine says he is running based on the strong leadership he has shown as mayor for the last 16 years. Over the last four years, there have been
$9 million in capital works projects on Bell Island, according to Gosine.
“I want to go on for another four years to finish off what was started.”
Crane, Wabana’s deputy mayor for the last four years, wanted to learn the ropes of how council works before making a bid to become the town’s mayor.
“Having that bit of experience, I think I can fill the role of mayor and continue to do all the things that are necessary.”
Crane said there have been a lot of positive developments over the last four years aided by the work of council.
She wants to help Wabana’s economy grow and address the community’s poor water quality and the Bell Island ferry service. She cautioned there are no quick solutions to either of the latter two items.
Gosine and McCarthy also made mention of the latter two issues when they spoke to The Telegram.
Crane expects the race to become mayor will be a tight one with three candidates battling it out. However, she considers herself to be the best one for the job.
“I’m running my campaign on my merits and my experience,” she said. “I have been very active since I’ve been in as deputy mayor, and I’m standing on my record.”
McCarthy, who taught in the community for 33 years and is now manager of the Bell Island Community Museum, said there were people encouraging her to run for mayor prior to the 2009 election.
“I’ve had my thumbs on the pulse of what’s been going on in this community for almost 30 years,” she said, speaking of her various volunteer commitments on Bell Island since 1985.
“It took me a while to come to this decision, because it is certainly a big one to make,” said McCarthy. “In consultation with my family and my dear friends, I decided ... if I’m all about making a change, then I have to be willing to help (make) that change happen.”
Noting there are many issues that need to be dealt with in the community, McCarthy said it is best to deal with them one-issue-at-a-time in order to do so effectively.
McCarthy touts her experience working with people and government officials and believes she can bring a fresh perspective to the mayor’s chair.
The current president of the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador also cited several things she would do if elected mayor. McCarthy wants to form four citizen advisory groups and establish set office hours to make herself readily accessible to both staff and residents.
McCarthy is also interested in establishing a local chamber of commerce and making better use of Bell Island’s unique historic characteristics.