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Town councillors in Pouch Cove say their mayor is in a conflict of interest. (Google Maps)

Town councillors in Pouch Cove say Mayor Sarah Patten is in a conflict of interest because of her day job at the province's largest union, which also represents workers with the town. 

The council passed a motion in July declaring Patten to be in a conflict of interest.

"Just because the actions of some people have been accepted for many years doesn't necessarily mean that they're right," said Roxanna Furlong-McGrath, the Pouch Cove town councillor who put forward the motion.

Mayor is long-time NAPE employee

Patten has worked with the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees for 33 years. She has been mayor of Pouch Cove for 13 years, and in her capacity as mayor, she has sat in on discussions regarding town workers represented by the union.

Patten said there had never been a problem between her work and her role as mayor, and that allegations of conflict of interest have never come up before this summer.

She's hired a lawyer to fight the ruling.

Council morale is challenged

Furlong-McGrath said the issue has been taking a toll on council.

'I think overall the morale is being tested at this point.' —Roxanna Furlong-McGrath

"I think overall the morale is being tested at this point," said Furlong-McGrath. "How can it not be when some people feel regulations are being violated while others feel they are not?"

Furlong-McGrath added that the controversy has not stopped council work, and it will take until the next council meeting in a few weeks' time to determine whether the mayor is in a conflict of interest during discussions regarding NAPE issues.