On election-results day, Saint John Mayor Don Darling reflects on 5-year-term

·2 min read
Saint John Mayor Don Darling has been reflecting on five years in office. He didn't seek a second term. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)
Saint John Mayor Don Darling has been reflecting on five years in office. He didn't seek a second term. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)

Saint John Mayor Don Darling will find out later Tuesday who will replace him in city hall's top job as his challenging single term comes to an end.

"It's a bit of a weird day, to be honest," Darling said in an interview with Information Morning Saint John.

Darling won the mayor's post in 2016 on a promise to practise fiscal responsibility while growing the city and creating jobs. He said it's a role he's tried to put a lot of "energy and passion" into.

"We certainly were tested over the last five years," he said.

Four people ran for Saint John mayor in municipal elections held May 11: Donna Reardon, Mel Vincent, Howard Yeomans and Darrell Bastarache.

Because the pandemic delayed voting in the Edmundston region, the results for all New Brunswick municipalities won't be revealed until Tuesday night.

A tough 5 years

It's been a term full of challenges for Darling, who doesn't expect to re-enter politics.

The city has faced increasing financial strain with $10-million deficits expected for two years.

Last year, the city was prepared for a restructuring that would see job losses and programming cuts.

Darling helped lay the groundwork for those cuts, tried to prepare the public for them and vigorously defended their necessity.

"I kept my promise and I did exactly what I promised to do," he said. "I think the city is in a much better place than what it was."

Darling said it was a difficult decision not to run again, but the job was taking a toll on him and his family.

"It was a very emotional decision," he said.

There are still city issues that need to be tackled such as food security, affordable housing and employment security.

Tips for the next mayor and council

Darling has always been outspoken and connected with residents over social media. In February, he also held a news conference to encourage residents to apply for the mayoral position.

Darling is encouraging the next mayor and council to surround themselves with a group of strategic people to have "that sounding board." And to also take advice, even when they don't want it.

And he also encourages the incoming mayor to stand up for what's right, whether it's against racism or for "treating people in a fair and balanced way."

"I'm excited for this next council," he said. "I want them to be successful."