PORT AU PORT WEST Seven of the eight names on the ballot in Port au Port West-Aguathuna-Felix Cove election are women, and the town could possibly end up with an all-women council — again.
While it may sound like an anomaly to have an all-female council, it would be a repeat in Port au Port West-Aguathuna-Felix Cove. In 2005, it was Mayor Phyllis Doucette, Deputy Mayor Wanda Martin, and councillors Christa Abbott and Michelle Felix-Morgan. It was only when one of the council members resigned that the community elected a man in a byelection. According to records kept by Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, there is an increase in the number of women getting into municipal politics. During the 2009 municipal elections, 38 per cent of towns in the province had more women on council than in previous years.
Women getting involved on council in Port au Port West-Aguathuna-Felix Cove stems back to 1977 when Dorothy Marche became the first woman elected to council and served as the deputy mayor for close to five years. In 1980, she was joined by Peggy Doucette, who later served as deputy mayor for a full term. Throughout the following years a lot of other women served on council, including Doucette who served as deputy mayor for a number of years and was the first female mayor of the town from 2005 to 2007. By 2009, Mayor Bryan Bennett was the only man with Doucette serving as deputy mayor and councillors Melina Bennett, Florence Delouche and Bonita Watkins.
Doucette said her 16 years on council were rewarding and a good experience, and she would recommend that women get involved in politics. Since there will be at least two of the new members of council this year, Doucette said it would be a different experience for them.
“All the nominees are good people and they seem to have the town’s interest at heart,” she said. “I sat with three of the nominees in the past and they were good councillors.”
She said one of the issues the incoming council will have to deal with is infrastructure — the town’s water lines are 40 years old in some places and are in need of replacement.
Mayor Bennett said he had no problems serving on council with a full contingent of women.
“I’m pleased there is a full contingent running,” Mayor Bennett said.
He and Doucette agreed they would step down if there were enough people running to make up the five-member council and with eight others in the fray that became possible. In the 2009 election six of the seven members of council elected in Postville, Labrador were women. There were several municipalities with five of seven members being women, including Leading Tickles, Baytona and Campbellton.