WHILE it may be more than six months away, the 2021 Mayoral Dinner may have one or two empty seats, with at least two councillors who voted against holding the dinner remaining steadfast in their opposition to attending.
Councillor Jennifer Catalano moved a motion, seconded by Claire Scanlan to cancel the 2021 dinner, scheduled to be held in April, at September’s council meeting.
While the motion was defeated, Cr Catalano made it clear she would not be attending.
“I did attend the Mayoral dinner last year and I’m going to tell you I won’t ever attend another one again,” she said.
“I was in semi-darkness most of the time and I can tell you that I wasn’t introduced to anyone that would bring investment into the Altone Ward, my ward, or even the City.”
Since the meeting, Cr Rashelle Predovnik, who campaigned for council on a platform that included cancelling the Mayoral dinner, declared publicly that she too would not be attending.
She told Echo News that in all good conscience she could not support the event.
“I won’t be attending any mayoral dinners during my time on council,” she said.
“In May this year, I successfully argued for the creation of a COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy to help ratepayers and I think as a council we can still do more here.
“Many of our ratepayers are really struggling and I think it’s time to rethink long held traditions.
“We can consider other more cost-effective ways to continue the City’s excellent advocacy efforts, and for the mayoral dinner funds to be redirected into our communities.
“Because in this day and age, and in this current economic climate, that’s what our communities expect.”
However other councillors who voted against the dinner were not so steadfast.
Councillor Ian Johnson told Echo News that while he would still attend, he would “pay his own way” at the event in an effort to gauge the true cost and ensure his attendance would be at no cost to the community.
Cr Andrew Kiely, who asked to hear the debate at council as he was in two minds over the event, said there were more important issues being discussed at council and, with the dinner so far away, couldn’t say if he would attend or not.
On the other hand, Cr Claire Scanlan confirmed she would definitely attend the dinner.
“The reason I am [attending] is because the ratepayers pay for it, and while I believe there are better ways to advocate for the ratepayers, the decision has been made by council and the money will be spent regardless of if I attend or not so I am going to fulfill my obligations to ratepayers.”
Councillor Tanya Richardson did not respond to an email from Echo News asking her if she would attend the dinner.