It’s been some months since the municipal elections and the re-election of Mayor Dennis O’Keefe in St. John’s.
Our mayor campaigned under the primary banner of “leadership” with a secondary nod to our need for affordable housing. As far as I could tell at the time, these made up the full extent of O’Keefe’s re-election platform.
On the latter, I venture to say that since his re-election, our mayor has for the first time ever, made public statements about our need for affordable housing, the city’s role, and has actually shown some leadership and taken some accompanying action. Finally, and well done.
However, and though not municipal funding responsibilities, I have never heard the mayor advocate for the now announced redevelopments of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary or the Waterford Hospital. Yet, with the announcement of the former, the mayor is quick to advocate that the new HMP remain in St. John’s. I assume he will feel the same about the new Waterford.
The siting of the much needed replacements of these ancient facilities should be guided by the needs of those who are to be served, not the mayor’s.
The mayor would have some credibility on the placement of these facilities if he had previously shown some leadership, which includes advocacy, and concern about the state of the these two antiquated facilities in the city for which he is, and has been, mayor. To my knowledge he has not and did not.
Our mayor needs to remember and practise the adage, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” O’Keefe should have previously had something to say, and been doing his job, to get these city-located facilities replaced, and not coming on board after the fact, and on others’ efforts.