Iqaluit council nixes byelection to replace John Graham

Iqaluit city councillors decided against holding a byelection to replace mayor John Graham last night, but that’s where the decision-making stopped.

Mary Wilman remains acting mayor for now

Mary Wilman speaks at a public meeting August 25. Wilman has been the city's acting mayor most of the time since John Graham resigned at the end of June and will remain in that position for now. City councillor Kenny Bell can be seen in the background. (Shaun Malley/CBC)

Two months after John Graham resigned as mayor of Iqaluit, city councillors have decided against a byelection to replace him.

Graham resigned in a letter received June 23, citing personal reasons, about a year before his term was set to end in October 2015.

Deputy Mayor Mary Wilman has been filling in as mayor for most of the time since.

Last night, council discussed what to do next.

They considered four options: hold a byelection, do nothing, defer the matter, or appoint Wilman as mayor.

Councillors agreed Wilman is doing a good job, but they couldn’t agree on anything else.

“I think the mayor’s mandate should be determined by the voter,” said councillor Terry Dobbin, who wanted a byelection, estimated to cost $90,000.

Councillor Stephen Mansell disagreed.

“I don't believe that for what would amount to about 11 months, the $90,000 expense is warranted."

In the end, councillors Noah Papatsie, Terry Dobbin and Kenny Bell voted in favour of a byelection. Joanasie Akumalik, Stephen Mansell and Mary Wilman voted against. Romeyn Stevenson, who chaired the meeting during the discussion and vote, broke the tie by voting against the byelection.

Simon Nattaq wasn’t at the meeting, but Akumalik reported that Nattaq was in support of appointing Wilman as mayor.

Mary Wilman as mayor?

Akumalik also supports the idea, saying in Inuktitut that Wilman has been doing a good job filling in, so they should give her the job officially.  

Wilman said she might accept the appointment, but Kenny Bell wouldn't support that idea.

"I can't imagine appointing someone to a $115,000 contract for a year. It's a lot of money,” Bell said. "Everybody in their right mind would say that they want to get $115,000, plus a living allowance."

"Yes, the money is attractive,” Wilman said in response. “Of course. But to me, what's important is the job. I have always said that whatever the council decides is what's done.

"I think there's a lot of responsibilities that go with this position and that's why it's full time."

Bell also put forward a motion to appoint Papatsie as mayor because he was the runner up in the last mayoral election, but no one seconded that motion, so it died on the floor.

In the end, council decided not to vote on whether Wilman should be appointed mayor, but they could at a future meeting.

The next mayoral election is in October 2015.

For now, Wilman continues as deputy mayor.