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Full-time mayor position questioned

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 18, 2008

INUVIK - Town council members had a heated discussion about the mayor's position last week.

Coun. Terry Halifax brought the issue forward of whether the job of mayor should be full-time.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

During their meeting last Wednesday night, town council had a discussion about whether the mayor's position should remain full-time or go back to part-time. - Dez Loreen/NNSL photo

When the issue was raised and the item was placed on the agenda, deputy mayor Chris Larocque raised some flags about the topic.

"Something as serious as this needs more time to talk about it," he said.

"This is not an emergency and we don't need to talk about it during this meeting."

Coun. Jim McDonald said he didn't mind talking about the possibility of the mayor going part-time again.

"I don't have a problem with opening up discussion. It doesn't hurt to talk about it," said McDonald.

A motion was passed to approve the agenda for the meeting with the added item of the mayoral position discussion.

Halifax said he believed the issue to be important and it should be addressed as soon as possible to make room in the budget by reducing the wages of the mayor.

"People ask me all the time what the mayor does all day," said Halifax.

"I don't know what to tell them because I'm not here at town office."

Halifax said the mayor's report has been dropped from sight.

"We've had two mayor's reports in two years," he said.

He then went on to explain a few of the reasons of why the mayor's position went full-time in the first place.

"We had increased oil and gas activity. The Joint Review Panel and the petroleum show were all duties the mayor was to be active in," he said.

Mayor Derek Lindsay questioned Halifax's motives for raising the issue.

"Is it the position or myself that you're after?" asked Lindsay.

Halifax said he was stunned that nobody at the council was talking about the issue.

Larocque said he spends a great deal of time at the town office and knows how busy the mayor really is.

"Cutting the mayor's position would be bad for the community," he said.

"I see the work the mayor is doing."

Coun. Clarence Wood said even if the council decided to cut the position back to part-time, Lindsay would still be paid the same amount for less time in the office.

"A discussion now would not do anything," said Wood.

"You can't change this in the middle of a term. You can make his work part-time hours but we can't change his salary.

"Do I think we need a full-time mayor? Yes I do," he said.

"It could be anyone in that position and I will support them as a member of this council."

Coun. Brian McDonald said the council has more important issues on the table and should spend its energy on them.

"What is the benefit of removing him now? We shouldn't waste this time when we have budgets to worry about," he said.

Coun. George Doolittle said the council has a lot of time to think about the issue before next term. Coun. Vince Brown said the mayor's position had been part-time for many years before it was made full-time two terms ago.

"The reasons for having a full-time mayor have evaporated," said Brown.

"A lot of really good mayors were part-time. We should take a long look at this. We need to have some meaningful discussions."

Coun. Grace Loreen said she supports the position being full-time.

Halifax said he had a beef with the lack of performance the mayor is showing the public.

"The mayor was missing in action at the petroleum show. It's embarrassing. I could go on and on," he said.

"If you aren't interested in the petroleum show, don't become mayor of Inuvik."

Lindsay acknowledged the absence of the mayor's report and told council he heard their concerns.

"I ran for mayor because of my love for this community," he said.

"Tonight you let me know I have to pull up my socks."

Halifax said he raised the issue because he wants the mayor to be accountable.

"This has nothing to do with personality. It's just business," he said.