By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES – Municipal elections are scheduled to take place across the province on Tuesday, Sept. 28 and one candidate that won’t be seeking re-election is Mayor John Spencer. But that’s not to say he won’t remain involved in or committed to the community.
“My reasons for stepping back from the municipal arena are secondary to continually fighting to better the community and area that we proudly call our home. There will be new challenges.”
Despite not seeking a second term, Spencer says that his time serving as mayor has been important to him.
“On the eve of the end of a term as Mayor I can only say the experience has been worth every minute. Working on behalf of residents and the community in moving our town, our home, forward has been truly rewarding,” shares Spencer.
While his time as mayor has proven rewarding, it was not always smooth sailing.
“Being Mayor had its challenges. However, it is challenges that make us all stronger. Simply put, in the one hand as a Mayor, and Council, you are given limited resources to work with, while in the other hand demands are on those limited resources. At times these demands can appear to be overwhelming. The key to a successful term is to maintain a balance. Or, for me, as Mayor, a better word is ‘satisficing.’ Doing what you can by giving your best effort with what you have to do it with. The hope is coming as close as one can to making the best decision possible. In that regard, as a Mayor, I worked very hard,” says Spencer.
Along with the challenges came the highlights, and Spencer says that there was much about his role in our community that he will remember fondly.
“What will I miss? First, the going to the town hall each day spending time with our staff. Great crew. Their leadership and diligence supporting Council’s work has been exemplary. I will also miss the work of the ‘boots on the ground’ outside workers and sports complex personnel. Municipal staff working in a vibrant community providing a level of service expectation is never easy. However, the employees were up to the challenge. A special thank you to each and every one,” says Spencer.
When he vacates the mayor’s office, Spencer will also miss the camaraderie and co-operation.
“I will miss the work of councillors. Putting yourself out there to take on such a role as a councillor is a commendable task. This Council has worked hard in making a difference towards growing the community. It would not have been possible without the commitment of all of council.”
Spencer gave much credit and thanks to fellow members of Council and MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – La Poile) and MP Gudie Hutchings (incumbent, Long Range Mountains).
“The same may be stated for the work of our elected federal and provincial representatives and their respective offices. Their work, which for the most part was behind the scenes, goes on daily allowing this community to keep a tight grip on not raising taxes, but yet seeing a lot of infrastructure work being done,” notes Spencer.
Spencer’s most effusive praise seemed to touch on the residents of the town he has served while also pointing them to the future.
“To the community, residents, volunteer groups and business owners, thank you as well for supporting your council. Your kind words on the job done by council has not gone unnoticed. Your criticisms are also respected. Positive change does happen with diverging views. Port aux Basques is a proud, progressive community that will continue to grow,” offers Spencer.
Spencer states that his proudest accomplishments involve moving the town in a positive direction in terms of development, and keeping residential tax from increasing.
“Ending a municipal term at a time with progress on the horizon for key public and private developments is so wonderful to witness. The fact that there has been no residential tax increase during a four-year term is a tremendous accomplishment. Standing as a gateway town facing the global pandemic has made us stronger. There’s a lot of great things going on along the entire Southwest corner of the province.”
Spencer is confident that there’s nothing he has cause to regret.
“There are certainly no regrets. No one works in isolation. Things are achieved with collaboration. As an example, progress made in areas of business development, social programs and infrastructure do not happen in isolation and do not happen overnight. Meaningful change happens when the community collectively works together. We have tremendous evidence of positive change happening within our boundaries. Rural Newfoundland is a great place to call home,” insists the mayor.
His advice to those who may be interested in running in the upcoming municipal election is to simply get involved to benefit the community.
“To those wondering if they have what it takes to serve the community as a Mayor or councillor in the upcoming municipal election my advice is to jump right in. This town cannot grow as a community without recognizing the importance of volunteers and the diverging views of our residents. Council needs gender equity. Council needs representation from new Canadians. Council needs input from all age groups and all walks of life.”
Residents will have to wait until the nominations to see just who in our community will be stepping into public service, but Spencer hopes they will find it just as rewarding.
“Once again, thank you. After decades actively serving the community I love, and call home, I can certainly look back and say, ‘It has been a wonderful journey,’” says Spencer. “Thank you. I have enjoyed the run.”