By Craig Westcott/October 14, 2021
The first meeting of the new incarnation of Carbonear council began proceedings Tuesday by allowing those members who weren’t re-elected a chance to say their goodbyes.
Mayor Frank Butt thanked them for their contribution and encouraged them to stay in touch with council and staff if they want to share ideas or have input.
While departing councilors Vic Jenkins and Amanda Dowden wished the new council their best, former councilor David Kennedy, who lost his bid to unseat Butt, focused most of his remarks on direct criticism of the mayor.
“I’ll be short and sweet,” said Jenkins. “It’s been a pleasure working with you. We had an excellent four years. And congratulations to the re-elected council and to our incoming new councilors. I hope you have a good and successful four years.”
Dowden said her four years on council are ones she won’t forget.
“It’s been quite the experience,” said Dowden. “It’s been a challenging four years for me personally, but it was an honour to serve my town, the residents, and to work with the fine people around these tables… I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me and helping me learn and I look forward to paying attention over the next four years to how things go and continue to grow in our town.”
Kennedy began by saying it was a privilege to have served on council. He then read from a prepared statement.
“It is with a heavy heart that I leave this chamber after 12 years,” Kennedy said. “It was a great 12 years, and in those 12 years I believe I served the residents and the business of the community, and our town has done well. In those 12 years I’ve worked with some excellent councilors and mayors who have helped progress our town to the point where Carbonear is a model town for all of Newfoundland. Carbonear is a well to do town with a bright future ahead.”
That was aided, Kennedy noted, by having the best municipal staff that any town could have.
“To the new councilors, I will be one of your biggest supporters. Your success as a council benefits the whole town. I know that over the last 12 years I witnessed some unfortunate decisions that often shed negative light on the town due to the actions and the decisions made. A town council is a team and no one member is more important than another and that goes for everything, not just outside of our council meetings.”
Kennedy said it’s hard sometimes to have to listen to the advice of paid professionals and decisions are sometimes very tough.
“Having people flaunt their responsibility as leaders in our town is both immature and highly unprofessional and completely unnecessary and happened way too often,” Kennedy said. “The right thing for people to do once a mistake has been made is to apologize. As humans we all make mistakes. I know that this (former) council got off on the wrong foot due to issues outside of our control and I for one will note again that following the advice of professionals is not always right, nor easy. Unfortunately, I believe this council may suffer the same start-up issues due to inappropriate actions on the night of the election. Mr. Mayor, after being elected and congratulated by myself, you did nothing to act like a reputable mayor, but tarnished the outgoing hardworking council and cast doubts about your new council going into a new term. You acted with disregard and through your position attempted to besmirch others… I also believe that your comments and actions in the hours after the election aimed at chastising the previous council and making inappropriate assumptions for the newly elected and re-elected councilors was silly and did nothing to build a collegial spirit as is needed on council. You, in a position of authority, should step up to lead our town and stop any further friction and apologize for your comments… As mayor you have the opportunity to lead this great municipality, not as a Facebook mayor, but as a positive role model that everyone so rightly deserves, and a clear majority voted for you.”
Mayor Butt appeared to try several times to respond to Kennedy, but was unable to get the attention of staff who were conducting that portion of the meeting and in control of the Zoom broadcast. It’s unknown whether he got a chance to respond to Kennedy’s remarks during the New Business portion of the meeting as the internet broadcast of the proceedings crashed, at least on The Shoreline’s end.
Meanwhile, former mayor Sam Slade, who polled the highest among the 16 candidates who ran at large on September 28, was unanimously approved as deputy mayor.