Saint John, N.B. mayor’s re-election about-face ‘unexpected’

Saint John, N.B., Mayor Don Darling shocked the city with the announcement that he won’t be seeking re-election.

Ward 3 Councillor David Hickey says there was no internal discussion or consultation before Darling posted online he was out.

“This was certainly an unexpected one for me,” Hickey says.

In February, Darling said he would run for a second term in this spring’s municipal election, stating in a Facebook Live that “there is more to do.”

Don Darling has been the Mayor of Saint John since 2016.

Darling’s predecessor in the mayor’s office, Mel Norton, says the job brings a completely unique set of challenges, including a level of recognition and responsibility that means you’re always on the clock.

“As soon as you step out your front door you’re with your constituents,” says Norton, “and most of your constituents are going to be supporting you — some of them are going to be doing the best they can that day and have challenges.

“Some days you can help them, others the best you can do is have an empathetic ear.”

Norton served a single term before opting not to seek re-election in 2016.

He wouldn’t immediately rule out running again this year.

“I’ve learned some time ago to never say never,” he says. “I never like to rule out possibilities.”

Neither would Hickey.

“It’s something I might consider along the line,” he says, “but not right now.”

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