An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S SOMETHING different about Arjun Singh these days.
What’s different, of course, is that he’s the deputy mayor in the early days of Peter Milobar’s leave of absence due to the provincial election.
Councillors take turns as deputy mayors on a monthly rotation. When the mayor is away, they fill in. Usually, there isn’t much to it and might involve attending a public function, signing some papers, or maybe chairing a meeting, but it’s a one- or two-day part-time proposition.
Because of Milobar’s situation, things have changed. The deputy mayor (the term used to be “acting mayor”) must take on the acting role on a full-time basis over a period of several weeks. For all intents and purposes, the deputy mayor now becomes the city’s mayor in real terms.
I frequently run into Arjun here and there but in the past couple of weeks I’ve been able to observe him in a different way as he has taken on his mayoral duties — radio interviews, chairing a council meeting, doing the hosting honours at the annual distinguished service awards, representing council at various events.
If it’s the case that people grow into the roles that are given to them, Arjun has certainly grown quickly. He has taken the assignment seriously, and he clearly enjoys it.
He’s always been a student of local government and has formally studied communications, so it’s not as though he’s had to start from scratch. And, yes, he’s chaired more than a few meetings, so he knows how to do that.
But in a very short time he’s come to look and speak like a leader, like the guy in charge. He’s more articulate, more self-assured, but still able to laugh at himself as he learns more about what mayors do.
It’s a very different ball game being mayor 24 hours a day than it is filling in here and there.
His time as deputy for the month is almost up, and he’ll relinquish the job to Pat Wallace shortly. But he’s been tabbed as the one most likely to be picked by his fellow councillors as interim full-time mayor if Milobar is elected as an MLA and extends his leave of absence instead of forcing a by-election.
That would mean he’d be taking on the job until the next civic election towards the end of 2018.
And right now, he’s proving he has the chops for the job.