Letters to the Editor

Monday, 28 May 2012

Fredericton's new city council sworn into office

FREDERICTON - Fredericton's new City Council was sworn into office late this afternoon at a special meeting in the council chamber of City Hall. The Council, consisting of Mayor Brad Woodside, nine returning councillors and three new councillors, will be in office until May 2016.

During the special Council meeting, members of the new City Council were escorted into the council chamber by a bagpiper and members of Fredericton's Ceremonial Guard.

They were piped to their seats in a semi-circle at the back of the chamber, whilst friends and family numbering around 100 people packed the gallery above.

Amongst the crowd were former staff and officials once employed by City Hall, including former mayors Elbridge Wilkins and Les Hull, and city clerks Donna Lavigne and Brenda Samson.

After the new council was seated, The Elm City Echoes (left), a local ladies barbershop chorus sang "Heading Home" for the assembled dignitaries and crowd. The piece was originally written and composed by Janet Kidd, director of the Saint John ladies barbershop chorus, the Seabells.

After the chorus, a lively and clever poetry reading was performed by by Kathy Mac (right). She captured the city's vibrancy, noting among other things, it's trails, festivals and even making mention of the Occupy controversy.

After the entertainment members of the new City Council in attendance took their Oath of Office. Fredericton Fire Chief Philip Toole and Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight acted as Aides-de-Camp for the event, escorting each member one by one to the mic to recite the oath.

After swearing their oaths of office with one hand on the Bible, the new city council members signed their documents of office. New councillors Kate Rogers, Leah Levac and Greg Ericson were of particular interest as they pledged their service to the city and signed their loyalty to the municipality for the next four years.

Seen in the photo at right, Councillor Rogers (Ward 11 - UNB/East End Area) was elected to replace former Councillor Jordan Graham, who did not reoffer in the May 2012 municipal election. She has a Master's degree in Political Science from UNB and is currently the managing director of the NB Social Policy Network, an organization that promotes collaboration between government, university research and community organizations.

Councillor Levac, left, (Ward 10 - Sunshine Gardens/West End) defeated former Councillor Stephen Kelly during the 2012 municipal elections. She is a program developer and instructor at the University of New Brunswick's Renaissance College and holds a Ph.D in Education, Leadership and Social Policy.

Levac won a hotly contested ward that saw four other competitors vying for the seat on council.

Greg Ericson, right, (Ward 8 - Skyline Acres area) was elected to replace former Councillor Tony Whelan, who did not reoffer in the May 2012 municipal election. Councillor Ericson is a former business owner and entrepreneur. He is currently working toward's a Masters degree at UNB on the design and implementation of public engagement processes to improve governance strategies.

Ericson vied for the council seat against former mayor Sandy Digiacinto. But it was clear as the returns came in on the evening of May 14, Ericson was the winner, signalling the desire for the Skyline acres electorate to go with a completely new face to represent them at city  hall.

Mayor Woodside was sworn in for his eighth term in office, making him the city's longest serving mayor. He is an award-winning public speaker, has been active in youth drug awareness programs and is affiliated with a number of associations and organizations. Mayor Woodside is currently third-vice president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He will become second vice-president in June. He expects to become president during this term at the city's helm, requiring the deputy mayor, yet to be chosen by council, to step in when he is away.

Woodside fought hard for his eighth term against thirtysomething challenger Matthew Hayes. His passion for representing the city was evident in sometimes fiery exchanges with Hayes during debates in the run-up to the election. Some observers were startled at Woodside's aggressive tone at times with his challenger, unused to his style of politicking. Others were frustrated with Woodside and council shortly before the municipal election when they fell short of voting in a ban on shale gas fracking within city limits.

But the new council chose to look forward this evening as it starts a new term, including the nine re-elected city councillors returning to office:
  • Dan Keenan, Ward 1 (Douglas Area). Councillor Keenan was acclaimed during the 2012 municipal eleciton.
  • Bruce Grandy, Ward 2 (Nashwaaksis Area)
  • Mike O'Brien, Ward 3 (Fulton Heights/North Devon Area). Councillor O'Brien was acclaimed during the 2012 municipal election.
  • Eric Megarity, Ward 4 (South Devon Area)
  • Steven Hicks, Ward 5 (Marysville Area)
  • Marilyn Kerton, Ward 6 (Barker's Point Area)
  • Scott McConaghy, Ward 7 (Lincoln Area)
  • Stephen Chase, Ward 9 (Odell Park/Parkside Drive Area). Councillor Chase  was acclaimed during the 2012 municipal election. Although absent for the official ceremony today, Chase was sworn into office at the last regular council meeting on May 15.
  • David Kelly, Ward 12 (Silverwood/Garden Creek Area)
Once the councillors were all sworn in, the ceremony was followed by a blessing from City Chaplain, Rev. Paul Ross. After Ross came remarks by the Mayor and councillors.

Of particular interest were the remarks made by councillor David Kelly of Ward 12. Fighting back tears, he thanked the mayor, his fellow councillors, city staff and constituents for their support while he has been fighting a health issue the past year. When Kelly moved on to thanking his family, anyone who had remained dry-eyed up to that point was a gonner as he confessed his love for his daughter helped him throughout his ordeal. 

After councillors spoke, proceedings were then adjourned and a reception for invited guests, family, friends and the public was held.  

Before leaving council chambers, each of the new councillors spoke to the media on how they feel about serving their constituents and how they will approach their new appointments:

Ward 11 councillor Kate Rogers 

Ward 10 councillor Leah Levac

Ward 8 councillor Greg Ericson 

Fredericton City Council meets on Mondays. The Council holds both Regular Meetings and Council-in-Committee meetings. 

During the Regular Council meetings, Council will formally receive reports, vote on by-laws and approve financial and other matters. In the open portion of the Council-in-Committee meeting, Council will consider reports and requests from the public and staff. A closed session may be held during which matters identified in Section 10.2(4) of the Municipalities Act may be discussed.

Council-in-Committee meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of each month, beginning at 5:00 p.m., in the 2nd Floor Committee Room of Fredericton City Hall.

Regular Meetings of City Council are also held the second and fourth Monday of the month, commencing at 7:30 p.m. in the Fredericton Council Chamber, and are open to the public. 
In the event that a Monday is a statutory holiday, the Meetings of City Council are held on the Tuesday of that week. 

The next regular council meeting with the new council will be held Monday, June 11, 2012.