20 Questions: Ken McDonald

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on September 28, 2013

Speaking with the new mayor of C.B.S., it sounds like his political career has been a carefully crafted execution up to this point.

Ken McDonald won the race for mayor in Conception Bay South in Tuesday’s municipal election, defeating incumbent Woodrow French.

Mayor-elect Ken McDonald had spent three years on council back in the mid 1990’s.

Eight years ago he ran for the mayor’s chair and lost against Woodrow French.

“I wasn’t one to complain about the existing council. The people had made their decision about who they wanted to be mayor,” he says.

He made his mind up right then to run for council next time around and situate himself for another run at the job of mayor. He won a place on council four years ago and this election again stood up as a choice for mayor.

“I felt the time was right,” he says. “Everything seemed to be falling in place right.”

He knew a lot of people probably felt taking on incumbent Woodrow French who had held the position for eight years wouldn’t be easy but McDonald had faith.

“I felt right from the start that I had a better than good chance of winning this race and it certainly proved out to be true.”

Last Tuesday on election night, he got 3,273 votes compared to French’s 1,703. Plan complete.


What is your full name?

Kenneth Joseph McDonald.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Topsail right here in Conception Bay South in June 1959.

What is your profession?

I’m self-employed. I own and operate my own in home appliance repair business.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Every house you go into it’s a different person and, a lot of times, even a different culture. You knock on the door and there’s somebody young, old, rich, poor. Even different aromas, like foods people cook especially if they’re from different countries you get those scents and everything. I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting people.

What do you dislike about your job?

Bad weather. In my business you’re getting in and out of a vehicle going to a house and back to the vehicle to get a part or whatever. It’s great when it’s summer time.

What was your first job?

My first job was the summer of 1975. I went to work in the kitchen at the Salvation Army Grace General Hospital.

What’s your favourite book?

I do read every now and then a political biography something like John Crosbie wrote “No Holds Barred” or even some local businessman. I remember reading about Craig Dobbin and his life. I find a lot of people like that very interesting to read about.

Which person, living or dead, would you like to share a meal and a conversation with?

My father, Dermot McDonald. He passed away when I was seven weeks old. I never, ever knew my father only from stories that would be told by my mother or aunts and uncles. And I think it would be nice to sit down and have a conversation with him and just ask how he thinks I’ve done in life and what would have happened if he lived to be an old man. He was working on a car in the driveway and the jack came out and the car came down on him.

Who has been an inspiration in your life and why?

That would be the man I knew as my father, James Dwyer. We moved to Kelligrews when my mother married him when I was two. He was the only man I knew as my father and he certainly played that role well, I guarantee ya. I was treated as good or better than his own. He instilled in me the values that I hold near

and dear in life today.

What’s your first memory of being interested in politics?

The Telegram used to print off a double page of all the electoral districts in the province when there would be an election coming up. And I can remember sitting with my father and watching that on TV and there’d be big square blocks put in there so you could keep track of the numbers as they would come up on the screen. You’d be writing in the numbers. I always found (politics) interesting.

Which politician do you admire the most?

I think I would have to say John Crosbie. I think he was good to Newfoundland and he fought hard for what he thought Newfoundland should get as their share in the confederation that we call Canada.

What’s your favourite meal?

My wife’s turkey dinner.

What kind of music do you like?

I like a lot of Irish Newfoundland music.

What do you do with your spare time?

I play a little bit of golf. Other than that I spend time with the family. Family is a big pastime.

Do you have a particular fearful moment you remember?

I used to have a paper route and remember one time a dog broke clear of his chain and chased me. I figured I was done for.

What was your favourite year?

1986. That was the year my son was born.

What was your biggest act of rebellion?

I was never much of a rebellious type. Like every kid I s’pose, you stole crab apples or threw rocks at things you shouldn’t have. I’m not saying I was an angel ... but I was never one to get in trouble.

What’s your biggest regret?

I think about the fact that I should have went to university and got a university degree. I think I would have liked to have been a CA (chartered accountant).

What do you think has been your greatest accomplishment?

So far, becoming mayor of the second largest municipality in Newfoundland.

What’s your most treasured possession?

I really don’t have any. I think sometimes people put too much emphasis on owning something and I really don’t.