Michael Applebaum announced yesterday he was stepping down from the job a day after he was arrested on fraud and conspiracy charges.
DeSousa 'steps up to the plate'
Alan DeSousa — a former member of ex-mayor Gérald Tremblay's now-defunct Union Montréal team and the mayor of St-Laurent borough — announced this afternoon that he wants to be mayor. He said he has the experience and the reputation to lead the city until November's municipal election.
"I'm probably the candidate that best represents the diversity of Montreal, best represents what the new Montreal is all about," said DeSousa, who was born in Pakistan and came to Montreal as a teenager. An accountant by training, DeSousa has been active in municipal politics for 27 years.
"There's a big, wide hole, and at this point in time, someone needs to fill that hole: To step up to the plate, to go to bat and to bat consistently," he said.
Mayor to be decided by council vote
DeSousa's only rival for the position so far is François Croteau, borough mayor for Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie and a member of Montreal's third party, the left-leaning Projet Montréal.
"I think Montrealers need to turn the page on this sad story, to turn the page on Union Montréal," said Croteau on Wednesday, speaking in French. "The only party that can offer that option to Montrealers is Projet Montréal. That's why I'm running."
The question of who will get the mayor's job will be settled on Tuesday, when the 62 remaining members of Montreal city council vote.
The entire process is a bit of déjà vu.
It was just seven months ago, on Nov. 16, 2012, that Montreal councillors voted for Applebaum — the first Jewish mayor in the city's history and the first anglophone mayor in a century.
Applebaum vowed to clean up city hall, following the resignation of mayor Gérald Tremblay amid allegations of electoral misspending by his Union Montréal party. No charges were ever laid against Tremblay.
Applebaum stepped down yesterday, one day after he was arrested at his home by Quebec's anti-corruption unit, UPAC. He is now facing 14 criminal charges. He has vowed he is innocent, but the embattled politician said balancing his official duties while defending himself against the accusations would be too much to handle.
Applebaum’s replacement will serve until the next municipal election in November.
Councillors have until Friday to put their names forward. Laurent Blanchard, executive committee president, and Harout Chitilian, city hall Speaker, have both indicated they might want to serve as mayor. Côte-des-Neiges Coun. Helen Fotopulos's name is also being bandied about.
Deputy Mayor Jane Cowell-Poitras has stepped in until a new interim mayor is selected, just as she did when Tremblay resigned.