Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary (City of Saint John photo)

A long standing tradition in Saint John is about to change. Common Council has approved a staff recommendation to change the way the Deputy Mayor is selected. Currently the councillor with the largest number of votes automatically takes the title – but – with the move to the Ward system in 2007 – only one of the two councillors elected at large would garner large voter numbers.

Council bogged down in its discussion of the recommendation and other options. The Local Governance Act specifies if a council is voting for a Deputy Mayor it must be by a show of hands. Some Councillors were concerned that could establish a division on council as it begins its new mandate. Mayor Don Darling told Council discussions he had with other Mayors confirmed the show of hands did set a divisive tone.

Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary moved a motion to have the councillor with the greatest number of votes whether at large or Ward representative become Deputy Mayor. That motion was defeated on a 5-4 vote. Council then voted on – and – approved the staff recommendation to have councillors interested in becoming Deputy Mayor to express that interest at the first meeting of the new council with a vote by show of hands at the second meeting and “adopt a resolution to appoint the Deputy Mayor for the 4 year term of council this time on a 5-3 vote.

The policy goes into effect with the election of the new council in May.