Iqaluit council appoints Mary Wilman to mayor’s job

Acting mayor takes full title after six months at head of council table


Mary Wilman will give up the deputy mayor’s nameplate, now that council has appointed her mayor, through a vote held Nov. 25. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Mary Wilman will give up the deputy mayor’s nameplate, now that council has appointed her mayor, through a vote held Nov. 25. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Iqaluit councillor and deputy mayor Mary Wilman finally took on the full title of mayor Nov. 25, more than six months after she began sitting in the mayor’s seat as acting mayor.

Wilman succeeds John Graham as the top elected official at the city five months after the former mayor resigned by way of a letter sent June 24, from Scotland, where he spent part of his summer.

Wilman’s tenure as acting mayor was due to end Nov. 26.

Council voted 3-1 in favour of appointing her mayor for the remainder of the current term, which ends in October 2015, rather than call a by-election.

Wilman left the room during the Nov. 25 regular meeting of her own choice, to allow council to deliberate on the decision.

Coun. Romeyn Stevenson sat in the chair as councillors Kenny Bell, Joanasie Akumalik and Stephen Mansell voted in favour, and Noah Papatsie voted against.

On her return to the council chamber, Stevenson asked if she would accept the position.

“I do,” Wilman said. “Sounds like I’m getting married or something,” she said, provoking laughter in the room.

“Thank you for believing in me. I will continue to lead council to the best of my ability until October 2015,” she said.

Akumalik nominated Stevenson for deputy mayor, which Wilman promptly recommended and council favoured unanimously.

Wilman then recommended Coun. Nattaq as alternate deputy mayor, which council also passed unanimously.

Wilman had served the position of acting mayor since early May, when then-mayor Graham went on vacation in Scotland.

The acting mayor faced an early test of her abilities when a massive garbage pile at the city dump caught fire, which was beyond the city’s means to extinguish.

The “dumpcano,” as Iqalungmiut came to call it, burned and smouldered for the next four months, all through the summer as territorial and federal health and environment officials assessed and monitored dangers caused by the fire’s smoke.

The city eventually enlisted industrial firefighters to extinguish the blaze in September, with some help from the territorial government in the form of equipment and supplies.

Akumalik commented that Wilman’s full title would reflect better on the city.

The city’s lead official attends many meetings throughout the country, “and it could be embarrassing if she keeps calling herself deputy mayor,” he said.

Iqaluit’s nine-member council now has one vacant seat. Graham was the third elected official to resign from council since its current three-year mandate started in October 2012.

Noah Papatsie won a by-election on Oct. 28, 2013, to fill a seat left vacant by the late Jimmy Kilabuk in April that year.

Council appointed Stephen Mansell, who came a close second in the same by-election, to fill a seat left vacant by Mark Morrissey shortly after he resigned in February 2013.

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