There was history in the atmosphere when Cllr Jody Power was elected Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Waterford City at the Metropolitan Councils Annual General Meeting last week.
The city native, who lives in Cheekpoint, was proposed by fellow Green Party member, Cllr Cristíona Kiely, while Cllr John Hearne was put forward by his Sinn Féin party colleague, Cllr Joanna Bailey.
Cllr Kiely told the chamber how Jody Power “kept the Green Party going during the quiet times” along with a couple of other local branch stalwarts, namely Catherine Kinsella and Daithí Kimber, back in 2011.
“Without them and Cllr Jody Power we would not have the party that we have today” – with what an MEP, a TD and two councillors in Waterford. Their supporters “kept the faith with him and worked for the protection of the environment and biodiversity before it was cool and when no-one else wanted to know,” she said.
Labour Party member, Cllr Seamus Ryan, seconded his nomination, saying “I’ve known Jody for a number of years and have always found him to be approachable, knowledgeable, helpful and willing to listen to alternative views. All of these, in my opinion, are the characteristics of a good mayor and a good chairperson.”
Cllr Power won the vote by 13 votes to John Hearne’s five. Applause rang around the chamber when departing Metropolitan Mayor Jason Murphy named his successor, in turn becoming the first Green Party representative to become (the 667th) Mayor of “Ireland’s oldest city.”
Speaking for the first time from the top table, wearing the civic regalia and chains of office, Mayor Power thanked his family and his party colleagues.
“It is an honour and privilege to be elected Mayor and of course a great responsibility and for the first time a Green councillor has taken this chair.”
He spoke of his roots in Henry Street in the city, attending Mount Sion primary and secondary school. At 17, he began working for Shell as a cadet engineer and travelled the world. There followed a decade in Rhode Island where he studied and worked in construction.
Cllr Power said he then took an opportunity to return to Waterford to work as an engineer surveyor before becoming a lecturer at the National Maritime College of Ireland.
The Mayor quoted Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan as he said it will take “faith, hope and love” – attributes that according to the new Mayor, outgoing Director of Waterford Treasures Museums, Eamonn McEneaney possessed – to achieve the city’s ambitions and “make sure Waterford is the best place to live not only in 2023 but in 2024.”
In terms of his priorities for the year ahead, he will be pushing for local action on “our climate emergency” and other environmental issues, including the ecosystem within Waterford estuary.
Cllr Power concluded his maiden speech as Metropolitan Mayor with the sentiments of “the great” John Mullane, saying “I loves me city.”