The election last month of Anthony Housefather as the MP for Mount Royal riding has created a vacancy that may interest as many as three sitting members of council.
Housefather, 45, mayor since 2005, resigned Wednesday after winning the federal seat in Mount Royal for the Liberals. He’d been acclaimed in the last two municipal elections in 2009 and 2013. With the next one not scheduled until November 2017, the city is required by provincial law to call a by-election to replace him.
If a single candidate is nominated, he or she will be acclaimed. But there appear to be more aspirants this time around.
Councillor Allan J. Levine confirmed to the Montreal Gazette he is running.
“I feel the city needs a new direction on finance,” he said. “The debt ratio is high and Côte-St-Luc, with the second highest tax mill rate on the island, needs someone with a tough stand on taxes.”
Mitchell Brownstein, who worked on the Housefather election campaign and was president of the Liberal riding association in Mount Royal, has already obtained the support of fellow councillors Mike Cohen and Sam Goldbloom without stating his intentions so far.
Brownstein said he’ll be attending Housefather’s swearing-in at Ottawa next week and won’t make any announcement before then, but did say “I’m seriously considering it” and “I’m very appreciative of the overwhelming support I’m getting from the public.”
Councillor Dida Berku said she’s thinking about it as well “but I don’t know yet. I’m not ruling it out.”
Berku, who ran once for mayor against Bernard Lang in 1994, said her choice would have been for city to function with a succession of acting mayors until the next scheduled election in 2017.
“We’ve just come out of a very divisive (federal) election. Nobody has an appetite for another election now, in the middle of winter. We get along well, it’s a good team, there’s a lot of collaboration. If we could continue to run it that way, collectively, that would be my preference.”
Robert Libman, who ran second to Housefather as the Conservative candidate in Mount Royal and preceded him as Côte-St-Luc mayor, also has been mentioned as a possible mayoralty candidate.
“A lot of people approached me about it, but it’s not in my plans right now. I’m going back to my career as an architect and planner,” Libman said.
If an election is needed, the municipality likely will ask the province for permission to delay it until April, in part because so many of its residents are snowbirds who winter in warmer climes. It’s one of the topics on the agenda for the first council meeting without Housefather on Monday night.