The mayor of Saint John says he has thought about leaving his position as the city’s chief magistrate. The revelation was revealed in a Facebook post Don Darling made on Wednesday.
He has shared the challenges and frustrations he has faced after being elected mayor of the cash strapped city almost four years ago.
In his post Darling said “I’m not a quitter and in fact for many years, I saw quitting as a real weakness. Not anymore…I do need to tell you that lately, I’ve thought a lot about it.”
He would go on to say being mayor has been his most meaningful work, but that he struggles “with the meanness of politics.” Darling says there have been “threats, insults, bullying” and that his “family has been verbally and physically attacked.”
Darling’s tenure as mayor has come at a time when the city is facing a multi-million dollar structural deficit and public battles over the cost of providing services to citizens like protective services.
His remarks have drawn reaction from around the council table. Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary spent nine years in the mayor’s chair.
“When you’re in public life you have to accept that not everybody is going to agree with what you say or what you want,” said McAlary
First time councillor Blake Armstrong hopes the mayor sees his term through and says he can empathize. “He’s the bullhorn for the council,” explained Armstrong. He’s the one who speaks for council most times and he gets it back, and ten fold sometimes.”
UNB Saint John Political Scientist JP Lewis says it’s important for the public to understand what politicians go through, adding this could pave a road for empathy for Darling.
“Being mayor of Saint John is not easy and I think it’s a good step for the mayor to be open about how these very difficult decisions weigh on him,” Lewis said.
Darling declined comment when asked about the post at a public event in Saint John.
The next municipal elections are in 2020.