By Craig Westcott/September 30, 2021
One of Newfoundland’s longest serving mayors faced more contestants for the job than he ever did this election, but early in Tuesday’s contest it was clear Don Coombs would retain the title of “Your Worship” in Harbour Grace for another four years.
“I’m very humbled again by the people of Harbour Grace,” said Coombs, “and I look forward to working with a new team to move the town ahead.”
Coombs handily beat three other candidates, including former mayor and personal friend Terry Barnes, and two incumbent members of council who made bids to get the top job – Kathy Tetford and Sonia Williams. But even before the final votes were tallied, Coombs was focusing on the road ahead.
“We’ve got some issues,” said Coombs. “We’ve got our financials to look after, our capital projects, we’ve got to get council back on the one page to move ahead. That doesn’t mean we have to agree everyday on everything, but we’ve got to move ahead for the betterment of the Town of Harbour Grace.”
Coombs said he didn’t do much campaigning this time around, even eschewing door to door campaigning, because of the COVID situation. “People know me, they know what I’m about,” said Coombs. “I want to thank my family and the people of Harbour Grace, they put a vote of confidence in me again. I’ve got a lot of work ahead for the next four years, but I’m prepared for it.”
This was Coombs’ ninth election. He’s won all of them except the one to Barnes two terms ago, which he lost by a slim margin.
“Now it’s (time to) start tomorrow morning again,” said Coombs. “Let’s get a five year plan in place, let’s get the people involved in the town again, and say that we are open for business and that we’re going to get our financials put back in place.”
Coombs thanked Tetford and Williams for their service on council. “I wish them all the best,” he said. “It’s a natural transition (for Sonia) to want to go from deputy mayor to mayor. They both worked hard and I wish them all the best. They both contributed to the town in their ways and we’ll take as a new council some of the ideas they brought forward and we’ll hopefully move them ahead along with the ideas of the new council.”
Coombs said he is hoping the new council can meet as soon as possible. “I would like to do a roundtable with the new council, bring in our town solicitor and our town engineer to let them know what their roles are,” he added. “I want to bring in somebody from Municipal Affairs, because hopefully there will be a lot of new faces. And then I want to set up a meeting with the old businesses and the new businesses to ask, ‘What are we doing right as a town, and what are we doing wrong?’ We’ve got potential in the town with new investors and that’s my priorities right now along with our capital works projects. We’ve got the Southside, The Thicket, Kelly’s Lane to be done, we’ve got paving to be done on our streets and we have to work as a team… There has to be progress before internal politics. I’ve been at it long enough to say that. I look forward to working with the new team, we’re open for business, we’re moving ahead, and it’s going to happen.”
When the final votes were counted, Coombs had scored 613 votes. Barnes earned 432, while Tetford and Williams earned 354 and 267 respectively.