So Moved, Mount Pearl: Municipal Election 2021

A year after Kentgate, Mount Pearl is having a municipal election too. We can’t let Townies have all the fun.

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You thought after all the drama in Mount Pearl the last few years that we were just going to go quietly into the night, didn’t you? 

WELL. You’re not wrong. But also, I’m here to say there IS an election happening in Mount Pearl on September 28th (as is the case with every municipality in NL). And if you’re so inclined, here’s all the goss on where we are at the close of nominations in the Pearl. 

I’m motivated to fill you all in as I refuse to let the Townies get all the spotlight. And honestly—Brookfield Plains and Southlands is really Mount Pearl Territory, so surely you should be paying attention to the city where you suburbanites send your kids to school and hedge bets on an NHL career for your offspring via the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey system. (Go Blades!) 

Anyways: that’s enough of laughing at my own jokes. I’m a transplanted bayman and I consider anything from Topsail inwards “Town,” so by my own definition I’m also a Townie. But I love a bit of geo-political posturing as much as the next person. So let’s see what’s happening before regionalization turns us into Ward 6!

Mount Pearl city council works a lot differently than St. John’s and other neighbouring town councils. We don’t have “wards” nor is there a separate race for Deputy Mayor. The only separate race is for Mayor and there are six At – Large council seats up for grabs. The six candidates with the most votes win—of the six, convention is that the councillor with the most votes generally gets appointed Deputy Mayor by the new councillors once they are sworn in.

A Pearl of Great Price

The Mount Pearl race has an interesting dynamic this year. This is attributed in part to the decision by council to vacate the seats of council members Andrea Power and Andrew Ledwell in June of 2020, in relation to accusations of (alleged) conflict of interest in the dismissal/resignation of former CAO Steve Kent. The matter is still before the courts so I won’t get much into it, but it seems there was no resolution to the whole matter before the close of nominations in Mount Pearl. This meant that Power and Ledwell were unable to run again unless the decision made by the remaining council members to vacate their seats last year was overturned.

(I will say, I was watching the live council meeting last June that saw the vote to vacate these seats and it felt a little more like a Big Brother eviction than a City council meeting. The casualness with which Mayor Dave Aker moved on to the next item in the agenda—a complaint about loud bicycle bells—was a little jarring, if not comical. Though less in a “I love this city, this is hilarious” kind of way and more like “I have no idea if what they just did was legal” kind of nervous laughter.)

The second factor that makes this race an interesting one is the resignation—by way of provincial election—of long time Mount Pearl Councillor Lucy Stoyles. The recent provincial election (which also feels like it happened in a different geological era?) saw Stoyles elected as Liberal MHA for the district of Mount Pearl North.

With three incumbents not running, that makes three seats “wide open” as they say in politico speak. Three incumbent councillors are running: second term hopefuls Isabelle Fry and Bill Antle, and multi-term councillor and Deputy Mayor Jim Locke. (Not to be confused with Roy Locke, who is running for Mayor against incumbent Dave Aker.)

What is VERY interesting to see is there are SIX new (and very strong and competitive I might add) women candidates who have stepped forward. As a former co-chair of Equal Voice this makes me super happy, because a lot of politically engaged women in my life are pretty awesome and I have no doubt these hopefuls are as well.

But don’t fret! There’s a scattered man in there too, and I’m sure they have great stories about why they have come forward. I’m hoping to profile all of these brave and courageous souls in the next coming weeks so all of you Mount Pearlians don’t feel left out when you’re catching up on the political goings-on at your local coffee shop. 

As for me: I’ve had a few people ask why I’m not giving it a shove out here in the beautiful city that everyone forgets about and the answer is: there is a time and place for that sort of lunacy. I’m just happy to pick the brains of everyone else who decided to ride the crazy train. Stay tuned!

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