Duff, O'Leary say goodbye to St. John's council

It was the end of an era at St. John's City Hall on Monday night as five councillors said their goodbyes, including the city's deputy mayor and all three female councillors.

All-male council to be sworn in next week

Long-time politician Shannie Duff says goodbye at her last St. John's council meeting 8:47

It was the end of an era at St. John's City Hall on Monday night as five councillors said their goodbyes, including the city's deputy mayor.

Shannie Duff, who served for a short time as mayor of St. John's and an MHA, decided she would not be seeking re-election this year after serving eight terms over the last 36 years.

"For me, it is the end of a phase of my life, or a chapter of my life, which is very long and has been very exciting, and I am going to miss it," Duff said during an address at city hall Monday night.

Duff, who has been deputy mayor of the capital city since 2009, said the biggest challenges facing the council now revolve around balancing the old and new parts of the city.

"We have had huge change and huge growth in this city, and that's pretty evident — you can see it best when you're flying in over the city. And where we once had family farms and we once had blueberry grounds, where we once had places where we could fish — we've now got power centres and roads and big subdivisions," Duff said.

"St. John's has become a very modern city, and it's a very prosperous city, and it's wearing its prosperity with pride."

She said she may be stepping down from council for good, but she will be keeping an eye on the city regardless.

"To those of you who are staying, and those of you who are coming, please guard it well because the biggest challenge you're going to have is managing all the growth and prosperity in a way that does not lose what is unique and beautiful about our city, and like Sheilagh [O'Leary], I can tell you new guys, I'll be watching — you will hear from me if you don't behave yourselves," Duff said.

Lack of female councillors a loss, Duff says

Duff was the only person to address the fact that there will be no sitting female councillors in the city.

Debbie Hanlon decided not to run in this year's municipal election, and Sheilagh O'Leary lost in her bid for the mayor's chair.

According to Duff, there is a larger issue than that of gender that could affect the city.

"The face of this council will change because this is the first time in 40 years that we have no women," she said.

"Not that I wish anyone who has been elected other than the best. But it's not a gender thing for me — It is really a matter of a balance of perspective, and I do believe that women have a perspective that adds to the debate, no matter if it's federal, provincial or business or any other thing. And so I think that is a loss, but I am really hoping … that the men on council will be in touch with their feminine side."

Frank Galgay and an emotional Gerry Colbert, who served as councillor for almost 24 years, also said their final goodbyes to council after they both decided not to run this year.

The new city council will be sworn in next week.


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