Two women wrestle for Ward 4

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Debbie Hanlon (left) and Sheilagh Guy-Murphy. file photos

There may not be many women running this time for St. John's city council, but you can be sure that a woman will be elected in one council ward. There are only two candidates in Ward 4 and both are women.
Coun. Debbie Hanlon is vying to keep the seat she won in a byelection last year. Her opponent is Sheilagh Guy-Murphy, who has been involved in the local arts community for more than 30 years and is the wife of former mayor John Murphy.
Hanlon was elected in June 2008 to fill the Ward 4 seat, vacated by Ron Ellsworth, who successfully ran for deputy mayor.
The only other women seeking a St. John's council seat next week are Coun. Shannie Duff, who's running for deputy mayor, and Sheilagh O'Leary, who's running for an at-large seat.
Hanlon's run in 2008 wasn't her first attempt at politics. In February of that year, she ran for the federal Liberal nomination in St. John's East, but lost to Walter Noel.

This isn't Guy-Murphy's first attempt at politics, either. In 2001, she ran for a council seat in Ward 1, while her husband, who served several terms as mayor, tried to reclaim the mayor's seat, which he had lost to Andy Wells in 1997.
Coun. Art Puddister defeated Guy-Murphy in the 2001 election, and Wells was re-elected for another term until his resignation last year to take a new job as chairman and CEO of the Public Utilities Board.

Debbie Hanlon
Hanlon says she's looking forward to finishing what she started 13 months ago.
She said she's been active in her ward and working for all city residents as well.
"I've taken on issues like the mayor's advisory committee on seniors - myself and Tom Hann brought that to council and got involved," she said. "I've been lobbying for seniors since I started and I'd like to continue. I'd like to have an independent, comprehensive tax study done on the effects of taxing seniors, because I've always felt that seniors are our greatest resource. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have what we have today and I feel we don't treat them properly."
Hanlon said she'd like to see more cash in seniors' pockets because a lot of them are being forced out of their homes by rising taxes and expenses, while their incomes stay the same.
She also believes the mill rate needs to be reviewed in light of higher property values that are causing residents to pay substantially higher taxes.
"Something has to be done, but, to what degree, I'm not going to make any false promises and pretend that I'm going to say drop it from here to there, because you have to look at the expenses of running the city," she said, noting the budget was about $190 million last year, and in her ward alone there's still a lot more funding needed.
Hanlon's campaign slogan is "Keeping it real" and she says she wants to continue using the skills she's developed over 20 years in her business life to get results at city hall.
"If you really look at Debbie Hanlon, the last 24 years my whole life has been so diverse, from raising children here to dealing in the business world to dealing in the social sector," Hanlon said. "I've been on more boards than paint. I'm one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada; I was top CEO a couple of years in a row in Atlantic Canada, so I bring that, but I also bring the fact that I am a mother and I do believe I bring unique talents to the table and more of us should run."
Hanlon's other priorities include heritage and development and police and traffic issues. She said she believes you can marry heritage and new development successfully while keeping the charm of downtown St. John's that appeals so much to tourists.
She also wants to become more involved in police and traffic issues out of concern for public safety, especially in neighbourhoods with young children.
Although she's a well-known city businesswoman and probably best known as owner of Hanlon Realty, Hanlon said she's committed to being a full-time councillor.
She said her active businesses are now either in trust or being run by other people. Her realty company is being managed by her brother and two of her top realtors.

Sheilagh Guy Murphy
The theme of Guy-Murphy's campaign also echoes compassion for her constituents. It's simply, "I care."
"Basically, I'm running on the platform that I care. I live in the ward and I care about what goes on in the ward," she said in an interview. "I care about the issues that I'm hearing door to door."
Guy-Murphy said she's hearing a lot of common concerns in Ward 4, including neighbourhood security and, more specifically, speeding motorists that threaten the safety of pedestrians, children and seniors.
She said residents are also talking about snowclearing and how it's so difficult in the winter for a senior to even get to a push-button at an intersection because they can't crawl over a mound of snow.
Reducing the mill rate is something else Guy-Murphy said every resident she speaks with brings up.
"I certainly agree with them," she said. "You know the property values, real estate values, are going sky high and people's salaries are remaining the same. People on fixed income or seniors are in a real bind and they're the ones who are taking a big blow there, so that's a concern of mine," she said.
Guy-Murphy said she's committed to dealing with issues brought to her by the people and will be a strong advocate for her constituents.
The water issue is another concern, she said. "I'm a firm believer in seeking out and utilizing new reservoirs of water," Guy-Murphy said.
She has concerns about using a metering system as a conservation measure at a cost of $15 million to $20 million to install, and wonders who would monitor them and regulate the taxes from them.
"Residents already pay a water tax with their taxes, so that is a concern, for sure," she said.
She would prefer to see other options considered to encourage conservation, such as public education and communication with developers to include water conservation toilet systems and shower heads in their development plans.
"But mainly I believe that sourcing new reservoirs of water would be the way I would want the city to go," she said. "Instead of every summer telling someone that they can't use a watering can to do their window box, let's look at some real ways of finding more water and using it. We're surrounded by water, for God's sake, let's tap into it."
Her other priorities include promoting development, while maintaining the unique heritage of the city, waste management and curbside recycling, maintaining green spaces and providing affordable housing.
Guy-Murphy said she believes volunteer work she has done in the last 16 years for the community at large, for individuals and organizations bodes well for her council candidacy.
"I am a person who listens and is a strong advocate and a person who gets things done," she said.
A past recipient of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Awards, Guy-Murphy is well-known for her work with various community organizations and from planning events for organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism and the Tommy Sexton Centre.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Public Utilities Board, Canadian Cancer Society, Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism Tommy Sexton Centre

Geographic location: St. John's East, Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Emily
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Hmmm...if I were to choose the most level head it would be Guy...

  • Frank M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    A choice between a crook or a fool.

    I will not be voting for either candidate in my Ward.

  • voter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    two women running for the same seat in an election with so few women is a shame.

    We MUST have 50% women in the municipal council, as well as in provincial government. We also MUST have another woman as mayor.

    I believe it is time for legislation that will correct this injustice towards women.

  • Stephen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    A vote for Guy-Murphy is apparently a vote for drinking salt water........ we're surrounded by water, let's tap into it . Its a wonder she didn't simply suggest we all go out and buy cases of Perrier.

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    @ benjamin dover & Vince McMahon: Too funny! I can only guess how upset 'voter' (above) would be if they had to actually wrestle for the seat!! I also agree with other comments on this article: This is no law against women running for a seat on city council, but why limit it to legislation for more females only...? What about hermaphrodites or people with gender-confusion issues? It's funny... if only two males were running for city council, would anyone protest that there weren't enough men involved in politics to balance a mostly female municipal council...? Somehow, I think those voices would be shouted down as sexist.

  • benjamin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    will those two women be wrestling in mud or jello?

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Passing any form of legislation requiring that there be equal numbers of men and women running in an election is among the dumbest idea I have ever read. You can't force women to run in an election. So what happens if an election is called and not enough women are interested in running? Is the election postponed until they get enough to run or is it cancelled entirely and we keep going with the same crew already in place?

    You could suggest doing something to encourage more women to run but you can't pass a law requiring that a certain number MUST run.

  • Rob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    It should not be about gender, but about the right person for the job.
    Legislation to fix this injustice? Last time I checked there is not limit on the number of women that can run.

  • newfoundlander
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    To 'Voter




    I DISAGREE entirely. There is nothing that prevents any woman that desires from running for council nor is there ANY impediment to their election. I also hope to see more female representation in all types of government but we are long past needing some half-baked affirmative action program putting women in power that the electorate do not want.

    It is called DEMOCRACY. Get used to it as it may be around for a while.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I am some sick of everybody helping seniors, when they never seem to get that help. Everyone is bored with the likes of Debbie Hanlon and Sheila Guy doing all this great stuff come election time and yet it's never done. Blah blah blah...elections are here and the bull is gone on too long. I agree with David....not much to choose from. You got a supposedly mature business woman with a supposedly half grain of sense, and her slogan is keeping it real , OH my!! And then you got Guy going on about all the volunteer work she does..........................not hard when yer hubby is rich and you don't have to work for a living. And what in the name of god to you plan of doing about the winter snow. I got a plan.....move to Florida, it's just one of the ways to avoid our provinces snow. It goes to show that anybody can win a seat on council. Then again on the other side of things it's hard to get sensilbe people to run for councils when you got negative heads like me I guess :)
    Go Ron Ellsworth and Keith Combs, hope you both win !!!!

  • Vince
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Shag the election..............mail in that is...............why not do like the headline says...............wrestle for the seat

  • Shirley
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    The Votes are in and the winner is.....???????????

  • Greenly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Perhaps one of them can show the people in Newfoundland to plant a tree. St. John's is now an ugly city. They wipe out every tree in new subdivisions and never plant anything else. There are only two nice areas in the whole city. Kings Bridge Road and Waterford Bridge Road. Everything else is completely ugly.

    I haven't heard anything from either of these ladies about that.

  • Truth
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Mud wrestle, as in slinging mud??!!!

  • Terry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Seems like Debbie Hanlon wants to get elected on her ego,all she ever talks about are her own accomplishments.
    She claims to have talked to people all over ward4,all I have seen of her is putting a picture of herself under my cars wiperblade.Sorry Debbie.no vote for you.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Flip a coin here. Not much to choose from. Too bad one of the WARD 1 candidates are not running in Ward 4. Art Puddester, Danny Breen, and Dave Lee are all good choices.

  • GAR
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Debbie Hanlon or SG Murphy ? Hmmm. Both are wealthy, one is busier than a dog with two willies and the other, thank God, has run out of Les Mis, The Bags Do Broadway, and all that blah blah, ad nauseam.
    Debbie Hanlon is a survivor, an inspiration to people who face an uphill battle in their lives. She looks and sounds so sincere . If we lived in St. John's instead of Mount Pearl, Ms. Hanlon would get our votes.

  • Emily
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Hmmm...if I were to choose the most level head it would be Guy...

  • Frank M
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    A choice between a crook or a fool.

    I will not be voting for either candidate in my Ward.

  • voter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    two women running for the same seat in an election with so few women is a shame.

    We MUST have 50% women in the municipal council, as well as in provincial government. We also MUST have another woman as mayor.

    I believe it is time for legislation that will correct this injustice towards women.

  • Stephen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    A vote for Guy-Murphy is apparently a vote for drinking salt water........ we're surrounded by water, let's tap into it . Its a wonder she didn't simply suggest we all go out and buy cases of Perrier.

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    @ benjamin dover & Vince McMahon: Too funny! I can only guess how upset 'voter' (above) would be if they had to actually wrestle for the seat!! I also agree with other comments on this article: This is no law against women running for a seat on city council, but why limit it to legislation for more females only...? What about hermaphrodites or people with gender-confusion issues? It's funny... if only two males were running for city council, would anyone protest that there weren't enough men involved in politics to balance a mostly female municipal council...? Somehow, I think those voices would be shouted down as sexist.

  • benjamin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    will those two women be wrestling in mud or jello?

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Passing any form of legislation requiring that there be equal numbers of men and women running in an election is among the dumbest idea I have ever read. You can't force women to run in an election. So what happens if an election is called and not enough women are interested in running? Is the election postponed until they get enough to run or is it cancelled entirely and we keep going with the same crew already in place?

    You could suggest doing something to encourage more women to run but you can't pass a law requiring that a certain number MUST run.

  • Rob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    It should not be about gender, but about the right person for the job.
    Legislation to fix this injustice? Last time I checked there is not limit on the number of women that can run.

  • newfoundlander
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    To 'Voter




    I DISAGREE entirely. There is nothing that prevents any woman that desires from running for council nor is there ANY impediment to their election. I also hope to see more female representation in all types of government but we are long past needing some half-baked affirmative action program putting women in power that the electorate do not want.

    It is called DEMOCRACY. Get used to it as it may be around for a while.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    I am some sick of everybody helping seniors, when they never seem to get that help. Everyone is bored with the likes of Debbie Hanlon and Sheila Guy doing all this great stuff come election time and yet it's never done. Blah blah blah...elections are here and the bull is gone on too long. I agree with David....not much to choose from. You got a supposedly mature business woman with a supposedly half grain of sense, and her slogan is keeping it real , OH my!! And then you got Guy going on about all the volunteer work she does..........................not hard when yer hubby is rich and you don't have to work for a living. And what in the name of god to you plan of doing about the winter snow. I got a plan.....move to Florida, it's just one of the ways to avoid our provinces snow. It goes to show that anybody can win a seat on council. Then again on the other side of things it's hard to get sensilbe people to run for councils when you got negative heads like me I guess :)
    Go Ron Ellsworth and Keith Combs, hope you both win !!!!

  • Vince
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Shag the election..............mail in that is...............why not do like the headline says...............wrestle for the seat

  • Shirley
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    The Votes are in and the winner is.....???????????

  • Greenly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Perhaps one of them can show the people in Newfoundland to plant a tree. St. John's is now an ugly city. They wipe out every tree in new subdivisions and never plant anything else. There are only two nice areas in the whole city. Kings Bridge Road and Waterford Bridge Road. Everything else is completely ugly.

    I haven't heard anything from either of these ladies about that.

  • Truth
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Mud wrestle, as in slinging mud??!!!

  • Terry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Seems like Debbie Hanlon wants to get elected on her ego,all she ever talks about are her own accomplishments.
    She claims to have talked to people all over ward4,all I have seen of her is putting a picture of herself under my cars wiperblade.Sorry Debbie.no vote for you.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Flip a coin here. Not much to choose from. Too bad one of the WARD 1 candidates are not running in Ward 4. Art Puddester, Danny Breen, and Dave Lee are all good choices.

  • GAR
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Debbie Hanlon or SG Murphy ? Hmmm. Both are wealthy, one is busier than a dog with two willies and the other, thank God, has run out of Les Mis, The Bags Do Broadway, and all that blah blah, ad nauseam.
    Debbie Hanlon is a survivor, an inspiration to people who face an uphill battle in their lives. She looks and sounds so sincere . If we lived in St. John's instead of Mount Pearl, Ms. Hanlon would get our votes.