Tantramar Mayor Andrew Black blocks a vote on who will be his deputy

Mayor Andrew Black

In a move that surprised many observers, Tantramar Mayor Andrew Black prevented council from electing a deputy mayor at its first meeting on Tuesday.

“We have just sat as the new council of the Town of Tantramar,” Black said.

“We have not had an opportunity to interact with one another. I would like us to be able to know each other and have an understanding of who we are as councillors and as council, before we make the decision of who would be the deputy mayor,” he added.

Black was responding to a motion from Councillor Debbie Wiggins-Colwell who sought to add the election of deputy mayor to Tuesday’s council agenda.

She pointed out that the bylaw governing council procedures requires it to elect a deputy mayor at its first meeting.

However, changing the agenda requires unanimous approval, and after all other councillors had voted to change it, Black asked clerk Donna Beal: “Do I vote as well?”

In the past, Sackville mayors have voted only to break council ties, but the new procedural bylaw imposed by the province allows the mayor to vote on every issue.

“I will vote nay,” Black declared defeating the motion to add the election of deputy mayor to council’s agenda.

However, he told reporters later, that he’s uncomfortable with the bylaw that gives the mayor a vote and would rather provide information and guidance.

“Voting on an issue I think, it’s just not me, it’s just not what I would want to do,” he said.

Black added, however, that it will be up to council to change the bylaw.

“I might have my own ideas about what I would like to see,” he said, “but if council passes the bylaw saying that the mayor should vote, then so be it.”

Black said the election of a deputy mayor could take place at council’s next meeting later this month.

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7 Responses to Tantramar Mayor Andrew Black blocks a vote on who will be his deputy

  1. Mike Gallant says:

    So, the rookie Mayor subverts the will of Council as his first act. It seems according to the Mayor, that Council will only be able to play with the toys after showing they get to know each other. Or does his preferred candidate for Dep not have the requisite votes yet? I wanted to reach out to Mayor and Council on this issue but their Town email addresses were not publicly available as of this writing. All this bravado about “ready to get to work” after the swearing in last month, was really what?

    • Ralston C says:

      I believe you have nailed it once again Mike. You’d have to be from another planet to not know who he will try to get the position of deputy. He knew that something had been in the works I’m sure and had put a bandage over it for a couple weeks. I sure hope these new councillors can see past this and get a deputy elected other than the one obvious pick he would make. Definitely a bad look early for those who voted for him. Maybe a look at what’s to come.

  2. The Local Governance Act has always indicated that the Mayor has a vote unless otherwise determined by the local government under their procedural by-law. This, as we know, is a new Local Government which now serves a new Town so things have changed and there is a new way of conducting this local government’s business that better aligns with local governments throughout the province.

    I am sure UMNB is well aware of this need to ensure more uniformity in having local governments conduct their business in order to ensure delivery of services to their residents.

    Maybe the issue here is not who implemented the bylaw, or when a mayor can vote, it is the requirement for a unanimous vote by council to add an item to the agenda.

    Lots of learning for this new Mayor and Council as it tries to disengage from how business used to be done in the former local governments and how it will need to be done in the new local government.

    Local Governance Act

    66(1) Subject to this Act, each member of council present at a meeting shall announce his or her vote openly and individually, and the clerk shall record it, and no vote shall be taken by ballot or by any other method of secret voting, and every vote taken in that manner is of no effect.
    66(2) Despite subsection (1), a local government may, in a procedural by-law made under paragraph 10(2)(a) or in a municipal charter or private or special Act of the local government, provide that the mayor shall not vote except to have a casting vote in the event of a tie.

    BY-LAW NO. 2022-03

    11. After the Mayor has counted the vote, the Mayor shall declare whether it was “carried”, “carried unanimously” or “defeated”. Except where provided for in this bylaw or by the applicable legislation, a majority vote of the Members present who are eligible to vote, shall decide a motion or question before the Council. If the vote results in a tie, the motion will be considered defeated.

  3. Christian Corbet says:

    And so the meek has inherited (in his mind) the earth. Let the games begin!

  4. Rob says:

    His Worship has demonstrated himself to be a person who is perhaps a bit too picky about who he works closely with, and not picky enough about who he alienates…

    • Mike Gallant says:

      Perhaps. He spent his time as Councillor as part of a solid voting bloc and no one, including local media raised an eyebrow. Now that two of his allies are no longer there, he seems to attempt to revive that arrangement by trying to form an alliance on the new council (with those that are like minded). He gratuitously thanks the Rural Health Action Group (where his principal campaign advisor thankfully volunteers) but painfully ignores any credit whatsoever to Horizon Health. He’s called out both the NS and NB govts for remaining silent on the Chignecto Ithmus issue – these are levels of govt to work with in the future. I truly hope he grows into the job but past behaviour seems to indicate that he more interested in performative advocacy and empty gestures.

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