Newfoundland councillors cite ‘insults’ in response to mayor’s dissolution call

A day after the mayor of a small Newfoundland town said his “dysfunctional” council should be dissolved, its six other members are suggesting the real problem is a resistance to change.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A day after the mayor of a small Newfoundland town said his “dysfunctional” council should be dissolved, its six other members are suggesting the real problem is a resistance to change.

Sam Synard has been mayor of Marystown for 15 years but the council voted for him to resign this week over an alleged conflict of interest.

Synard denies any wrongdoing and has called for an early election — which the province says only happens in extreme cases of dysfunction.

In a news release released Thursday, the six other councillors say they work well together but have been hampered by “negativity, insults and belittling” without naming anyone at the centre of their allegation.

“We pride ourselves on bringing a new level of accountability, transparency and improved communication to the residents of Marystown,” the statement says. “However, with this new direction of governance and accountability, the change from decades of older, ineffective practices can be difficult to adjust to and these adjustments may have contributed to recent statements in the media regarding the ’new council.’ ”

The statement was issued by councillors Al Spencer, Mary Beth Farrell, Ruby Hoskins, Lisa Slaney, Darlene LaFosse-Blagdon and Leonard Pittman

Synard was acclaimed and five new members won four-years terms just two years ago.

Synard has been mayor of Marystown for 15 years and has served in municipal politics for 26.

On Wednesday, he said the allegation of conflict of interest involving a sewer line to property owned by his brother, who died last year at 49 of a heart attack, is “frivolous and personal.”

Synard said he has no plans to step down as council reviews the conflict of interest allegation.

“I’m not in conflict but there’s a process to go through, so I respect that process.”