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Philpott ready to lead Baie Verte as newest mayor

['Baie Verte councillor Scott Furey was one of very few people to attend last week’s public consultation on regional government in Baie Verte.']
['Baie Verte councillor Scott Furey was one of very few people to attend last week’s public consultation on regional government in Baie Verte.']

BAIE VERTE, NL - Brandon Philpott entered municipal politics in Baie Verte part way through last term knowing full well he would put everything he had into the role.  

As a rookie politician, he knew little of what to expect.

He certainly didn't anticipate becoming the next mayor.

As one of two returning council members in Baie Verte, that is exactly what transpired. He is the newest mayor of the town, while Scott Furey - the other returning councillor from last term - is deputy mayor.

Along with new councillors Shawn Russell, Christopher Howell and Ryan White, they make up five of the seven members of the new council.

At their first official public meeting - after choosing the mayor and deputy mayor - it was decided nomination day for candidates to fill the two remaining seats would be Oct. 17. The byelection has been scheduled for Nov. 7.

Philpott is ready to lead Baie Verte, a town undergoing a renewal of growth invigorated by a rebirth of the mining industry on the peninsula.

"It is something I always thought about," he said of entering politics. "You live in a place long enough, there are often things you would like to see change or ... done a little differently.

"Honestly, the best way to do that would be to put your name in the ring and take the plunge to try working with the town and volunteering."

A career teacher who recently entered the electrician field, the 33-year-old mayor will have to juggle a hectic work schedule and running a town. He is currently on contract at Muskrat Falls, and has been conducting business by telephone from Labrador in the early stages of his term.

It is a juggling performance he says he is willing and able to do.

He found a passion as a councillor last term, and will now bring that energy to the mayoral position.

"I took a liking to it a lot more than I anticipated," he said. "It is a lot of time and effort, especially for myself. If I am going to commit to something, I like to give it all that I can."

The town is moving forward on the new community centre project, and is in the process of closing an agreement to acquire the former Beothuk Collegiate from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District. A consultant - AMEC - is studying the feasibility of the centre, and is expected to release its final report to council in the coming weeks.

Philpott said he accepted the nomination for mayor because he wanted to see these types of projects through.

"I feel, right now, I would like to try it," he said. "I will try my hand at it, and see how I do."

Volunteers needed

One of its first orders of business is to start an external citizen advisory committee, where volunteers in the community can help make a difference.

A new beautification committee is forming and needs members, and the community centre will likely have a committee. Volunteers are also needed on the town's recreation commission, and volunteer firefighters are always accepted.

Council is open to hearing other ideas from residents on potential committees that could benefit the town.

"I would really like to get more people involved in the town," Philpott said. "I find we draw on a lot of the same volunteers, which is excellent to have a good group of people who volunteer. But, I think if more people were more aware of what goes on in the town, they might be more inclined to volunteer."

His immediate attention is on encouraging residents to run in the byelection. Having five council members acclaimed in this year's election appears to be a provincewide issue, said Philpott, but he hopes to see more than just two people in the byelection.

He believes an election, if even just for two remaining seats, would be healthy for the town.

The new mayor is leading a town that has a new fire hall, recently completed a renovation of Centennial Field, worked to improve the Sam Blagdon Memorial Trail, and completed other recreational improvements such as the town's softball field.

"I hope people get to continue to see the improvements," Philpott said. "Sometimes it is slow going, but a lot of work and effort goes into it.

"I must say, so far the councillors we have all seem to be very interested and want to continue to see what has happened in the past couple of years continue on."  

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