Elizabeth Roy becomes next mayor of Whitby


Published October 24, 2022 at 10:24 pm

Whitby has a new mayor for the first time in nearly a decade after Elizabeth Roy was elected to take the mayoral chains.

Roy swept into office with a sizeable lead claiming over half of the vote, 53.79 per cent and more than 12,600 ballots. Roy has served her community for sixteen years on town council, stepping up to the Regional level in 2014. Before that, she sat on the Durham District School Board between 1997 and 2006.

Roy takes over the mayoral seat from Don Mitchell first elected in 2014, after a long career on the council. Mitchell’s last term was mired by inter-council strife between 2018 and 2022.

Mitchell later commented that this council “has been divided from the beginning.” The division reached a fever pitch last fall after Regional Councilor Chris Leahy let fly an insulting comment about Regional Councillor Rhonda Mulcahy during a live council meeting.

Battle lines were quickly drawn in Whitby council chambers. Leahy attempted to apologize, but it came too late for Mulcahey. She took the council to task in a fiery speech levelling accusations of inappropriate behaviour behind chamber doors from Mitchell and council colleagues.

Roy and Councillor Maleeha Shahid sided with Mulcahey while others sided with Mitchell and Leahy. The latter filed an integrity commissioner report against himself that resulted in little reprimand. Leahy was able to vote against his own reprimand.

Mitchell has denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

On the other side of the debacle was Roy’s challenger for the mayor’s seat Deidre Newman. She filed a motion to quash an investigation into Mitchell’s behaviour as it fell outside the time limit for accusations to be made. The motion passed 6-3.

Citing his age and a desire to spend time with his grandkids, Mitchell announced in April that he would not be seeking re-election, shortly after council’s return to chambers after a long-closure due to COVID-19.

Newman was in her first term in the council after a long legal career. She was the first candidate to declare her intention to run for the mayor’s seat. Her father Des Newman was Whitby mayor from 1966 to 1975.

Deirdre Newman ultimately pulled 39.76 per cent of the vote or 9,355 ballots.

The councillors were joined by a new face to Whitby politics as well, recent graduate the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of management. Griffith received 1,517 votes or 6.45 per cent.

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