Dennis O'Keefe won't seek re-election as St. John's mayor

The current mayor of St. John's ended the speculation about his political future in an announcement at City Hall 1 p.m. Wednesday.

O'Keefe will endorse Danny Breen for job; Andy Wells says decision just reaffirms status quo

Dennis O'Keefe announcing his retirement in a news conference at St. John's City Hall Wednesday. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Dennis O'Keefe says he won't be running for another term as mayor of St. John's.

O'Keefe, who's been in the job for nine years, ended the speculation about his political future in an announcement at City Hall Wednesday.

Polling numbers look good, O'Keefe told reporters, but the tipping point was his grandson saying "Pop, do you have to go to work all day?"

O'Keefe said he will endorse Coun. Danny Breen, who announced earlier this year he would be seeking the mayor's chair.

"We're not going back to the old way," he said, in an apparant reference to former mayor Andy Wells, who officially announced his bid to return to municipal politics earlier this month.

From left, Danny Breen, Renee Sharpe and Andy Wells have all announced they would be seeking the St. John's mayor's chair in the 2017 municipal election. (CBC)

Renee Sharpe has also announced that she would be running for mayor.

Breen happy with endorsement, Wells blasts status quo

Outside city hall, Breen said he's thankful for O'Keefe's support and for his years of service as mayor.

Coun. Danny Breen says he's grateful for O'Keefe's endorsement of him as mayor. (Gary Locke/CBC)

"It's a great accomplishment. I enjoyed working with him," said Breen. 

"I think it's a positive step, whenever you get an endorsement from the current mayor, that's something you're very pleased with."

Wells however, described O'Keefe's endorsement of Breen as a way to uphold the existing state of affairs at city hall. 

"The questions that the citizens of St. John's have to ask themselves, is are they satisfied with the status quo?" he said.

"If you want change, if you want meaningful tax reductions, if you want something done about the lack of openness, the lack of transparency, the fundamental dishonesty that has permeated the business that is council — If those are your concerns, then I'm your man," said Wells. 

Retiring to spend more time with family

O'Keefe, in his early 70s, was a teacher for 30 years before being elected to council in 1997. He was deputy mayor in 2005, before running in a byelection for mayor in 2008. He's had the mayor's chair ever since. 

"I believe I'm leaving the city in a better place," he said Wednesday, citing his accomplishments as bringing decorum back to city hall and building a new senior executive team.

"It's time for me to turn myself back to my family," he said.