With a heavy heart, Wally Andersen takes over as mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay

While the elected mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay lies in an induced coma, Deputy Mayor Wally Andersen will sit in his place.

Andersen standing in for John Hickey, badly injured in a hunting accident

Happy Valley-Goose Bay town council Thursday, during the first meeting without Hickey. (Katie Breen/CBC)

While the elected mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay lies in an induced coma, Deputy Mayor Wally Andersen will sit in his place.

"It's difficult to take over under these circumstances, but the job has to be done," said Andersen, now the town's acting mayor.

"That's what Mayor Hickey would want."

The injury

John Hickey sustained a gunshot wound to the face Saturday in a hunting accident.

John Hickey, who retired from provincial politics in 2011 to spend more time with family, is making a bid to return to municipal politics. (John Hickey/Facebook)

Hickey's gun somehow went off while he was in the woods alone, checking rabbit snares.

He snowmobiled to the road, flagged down help and has been in critical condition since.

Moving forward

The town council plans to carry Hickey's vision forward in his absence.

It hopes to release the 2018 budget on time, host Hickey's planned healthcare forum, secure Spring Gulch water and continue applying for infrastructure funding.

John Hickey's name plate sits in council chambers. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Andersen took Hickey's place for the first time Thursday night, as he led council's monthly public meeting.

He said his switch to mayor is temporary and hopes Hickey will be back in the seat soon.

"We're going to keep it good and warm because we're going to keep on working… And there's no doubt that we look forward to seeing John Hickey – Mayor Hickey – back in our midst and sitting in [his] chair, as mayor."

Their relationship

Andersen and Hickey first sat on council together in the 1990s.

They both went on to run for provincial politics, serving multiple terms each — Hickey as the Progressive Conservative MHA for the Upper Lake Melville district, Andersen as the Liberal MHA for Torngat Mountains.

Wally Andersen is taking over as the mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in John Hickey's absence. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"Our relationship goes back a long, long ways," Andersen said.

"There are times when we argued, there are times when we fought, and someone said to me the other day 'you guys did all that' and I said 'yes, I hope to god that someday we'll be given the opportunity to do that again.'"

Hickey underwent surgery Sunday and his condition hasn't changed since then, according to Andersen.