Original Published on Nov 07, 2022 at 13:42
Mayor returned after election vindicated those who opposed her turfed
By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A rural Manitoba mayor says she feels vindicated after being reelected last month to once again lead her community, but also relieved that many of those who worked so hard to oppose her last term have now been voted off of St. Andrews council.
“It’s exciting but not totally surprising, because through everything I’ve always had strong community support,” St. Andrews Mayor Joy Sul said as she prepares for Tuesday’s St. Andrews council meeting, the first since the election.
St. Andrews council will look different on Tuesday than it did last term, as despite all councillors running for reelection, five were defeated, leaving only Laurie Hunt and Sul returning.
Sul is now hoping for an easier term and to be able to work with the five new councillors, after a rocky and often contemptuous first term that saw the majority of council, including Hunt, vote in 2019 to strip her of many of her mayoral powers, including the title of chair of council, and as spokesperson for the RM.
“With a majority new council, I am confident this term is going to be much, much better,” Sul said.
Sul received approximately 60% of the total votes for mayor in the RM on Oct. 28, and beat out mayoral candidate John Preun, another one of the councillors who voted to strip her of her powers in 2019.
She believes her victory was also a victory for the voters who have now voted her in as mayor twice and with more than 60% of the total vote on both occasions.
“It was a municipal issue, but it was also a democracy issue,” Sul said. “I won with more than 60% of the votes in 2018 as well, and in what turned out to be a separate election, council disregarded the people’s votes when they stripped me of my powers.”
An almost entirely new council will also allow Sul to feel far more comfortable heading into Tuesday’s council meeting than she ever felt last term with the previous council because she said it was the worst she has ever been treated by any group she has ever worked with.
“I can work with anyone, every organization I have worked with I have worked well with, and that is why the treatment I received last term was so hard to deal with, but also so hard for me to even comprehend,” Sul said.
“I have never, ever been treated that way before in my entire life.”
A bylaw was passed in St. Andrews in 2019 that allowed council to strip Sul of many of her mayoral powers. Sul confirmed the current council will have to vote to give her those powers back, although she is not yet sure when that vote will happen, she is confident council will vote to reinstate her powers when given the opportunity.
“One of the first things we need to do is amend the bylaw so the mayor will actually be a mayor again,” Sul said.
“And with this new council, I have absolutely no doubt when we vote on that it will pass, and I will be once again afforded those same duties and responsibilities that every head of council is afforded in this province.”