After more than a week of rapidly shifting political ground at Montreal city hall, councillors have now chosen the man who will lead the city until next November's election.
Michael Applebaum has squeaked by his former Union Montréal colleague, Richard Deschamps, 31 votes to 29. Three ballots were rejected in the secret-ballot vote.
"Now is the time to re-establish our bridges, to work together and to ensure that Montrealers can be proud of what we do as elected officials," Applebaum said. He thanked the council for its support. "We will all work together, I assure you."
Applebaum will be the first anglophone mayor to lead Montreal in a century. Montreal's last anglophone mayor was James John Guerin, who served from 1910-1912.
Criticisms have been circulating about Applebaum's French-speaking abilities.
The Minister responsible for Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, called the comments "nonsensical."
He said that Applebaum's French is fine.
Lisée congratulated Applebaum for gaining cross-party support from both anglophone and francophone councillors.
Only Applebaum, an independent councillor, and Union Montréal's official candidate, Richard Deschamps, put themselves forward as candidates by the Thursday afternoon deadline.
"We have voted to start a very big clean-up and a major change at city hall," said Vision Montréal leader Louise Harel.
Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron said he would have been happy with either candidate winning.
"We will do everything that is possible to help [Applebaum] succeed," he said.
Westmount Mayor Peter Trent said he was cynical at first, but is optimistic for the future of city politics.
"I see a breaking down of the party system, which I think is excellent."
Trent said he is looking forward to more brainstorming and coming together at City Hall. He also suggested reducing the size of council.
"I was never a huge fan of Applebaum, but I must tell you that he has conducted himself with a great deal of dignity," Trent said.
City council to be more collaborative
Applebaum is emphasizing the need for a collaborative council. He said he doesn't want to see any more political bickering.
"If Montreal doesn't function, then all of Quebec is hurt by it," he said.
Applebaum said his vision for council includes an executive committee with representatives from all parties.
He said he is hoping fellow candidate Deschamps will join the committee, despite his loss in the leadership race.
"In order for this to work, I would like to see a coalition and that includes Richard Deschamps," he said.
Immediately following his election, Applebaum says he walked over to Deschamps and asked him to be a part of the executive committee.
Deschamps has not yet said whether he will accept the offer.
Applebaum also said he plans to increase the transparency of city council and the executive committee.
Tremblay's resignation leads to coalition
Opposition parties Vision Montréal and Projet Montréal did not put forward a candidate for the top job, and councillors for those parties did not publicly say which of the two names on the ballot they would support.
There is one vacant seat on council, and Lachine borough Mayor Claude Dauphin was away on vacation and unable to vote in absentia.
The post became vacant when longtime Mayor Gérald Tremblay stepped down amid mounting pressure from the opposition and allegations that he had turned a blind eye to illegal party financing dating back nearly a decade.
Those allegations, made at the province's corruption inquiry, have not been proven, and Tremblay has never been charged with any wrongdoing.
Tremblay's Union Montréal party lost its majority in the days following his resignation as one by one several of the party faithful tendered their resignations to sit as independents.
CDN-NDG seeks borough mayor to replace Applebaum
Now that Applebaum has been elected city mayor, a process will begin to replace him as borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
He will remain borough mayor until he is sworn in as interim mayor on Monday.
Councillor for Darlington Lionel Perez will then take over as acting mayor until a replacement for Applebaum is elected.
The city clerk's office confirmed the borough council will have 30 days to find a new mayor.
Applebaum's seat on city council will remain vacant until the next municipal election.