Newcastle's mayor resigns

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

On July 10, in an email titled “thank you,” Deb Piana announced her resignation to the Newcastle City Council and Clerk-Treasurer Greg James. Elected in 2016 after a successful write-in candidacy during the primary election, Piana was up for re-election in 2020 and had not filed to seek reelection before the deadlines. 

“It has been a pleasure working with all of you and an honor to serve as the Mayor of Newcastle. Due to concerns of my residency, I regretfully give you my resignation as Mayor of Newcastle effective immediately,” Piana, the city’s first female mayor, said in the email. “Thank you for your dedication and service to our community. I know you will move forward and continue to do what is best for Newcastle.” 

In response to the email, Don Steveson, who is the council president and a mayoral candidate, had originally called a special City Council meeting for Monday, July 27, at 6 p.m. but the council addressed the topic during its July 20 meeting. 

After the council voted to accept the resignation, Steveson explained  that there were different options open to the council for addressing the mayoral vacancy.  He suggested that the least disruptive way to approach the issue would be for him, as president, to officiate until the November general election. 

“There would not be a vacated council seat; he would be acting as president,” Clerk-Treasurer Greg James said. 

According to City Attorney Jim Peck, this option would not require the appointment of an interim mayor and would allow for the successful mayoral candidate to take the seat almost immediately after the election. Steveson and Pam Gualtieri are both seeking the seat. At this point, the council could either appoint the newly elected mayor to the seat before Jan. 1, when the term would begin, or continue to operate under the president until the new mayor officially takes office. 

The other option would have been for the council to appoint a council member to the interim mayor position, vacating a council seat. With the upcoming election, Peck said all of the options presented have some technicalities attached. 

“There are a lot of moving parts here that need to be taken into consideration. This has happened before, but it was a long time ago,” Peck said. 

The council unanimously voted to have President Steveson run the council until the election. 

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