Councillor Debbie Pitts has been elected Mayor of Douglas for the 2017-2018 municipal year.
Members of the council voted unanimously to elect Councillor Pitts at a statutory public council meeting held on Wednesday May 10.
In his proposer’s speech Councillor Ritchie McNicholl said that it was ‘almost inevitable’ that Councillor Pitts should have become involved in local politics, given that her father, Councillor Stephen Pitts, and her late mother, Dot Pitts had both held the office of Mayor of Douglas. He continued: ‘Debbie stood for election in Derby ward in 2012 and for the last five years has conscientiously served the Borough of Douglas as a councillor.’
In closing he said Councillor Pitts was ‘well suited’ to taking on the role of Mayor of Douglas. ‘This is the first time a son or daughter of two former mayors has also become mayor, and given these most unusual circumstances I believe it will be a very long time before we see this again.’
Seconding the nomination Councillor Carol Malarkey said Councillor Pitts was ‘100 per cent committed to Douglas and its people, and to making our town the best it can be, not just for now but for generations to come.’
She went on to outline Councillor Pitts’ devotion to the younger members of her extended family, her work with children with life-limiting illnesses and the energy she applies to fundraising for cancer-related charities.
In closing she said: ‘As mayor, Debbie will draw on the legacy of public service learned from her father and late mother, on her passion to help to transform people’s lives, and on her abiding love of our town, the capital of the Isle of Man. She will deliver 100 per cent for Douglas.’
Accepting the nomination Councillor Debbie Pitts referred to the ‘family tradition’ of serving as mayor and paid tribute to her late mother Dot and her father Stephen Pitts who had both held the office. She said: ‘I hope to carry on the strong family tradition and make my own mark on the role of Mayor and local politics.’
Looking to the future she said her priorities would be the ‘positive promotion of Douglas’, engaging with the community and for the doors of Douglas town hall to be ‘open to as many people as we can’.
She added that she would take inspiration from the council’s corporate plan which pledged to create ‘a brighter prospect for our town, our future’ and would support greater autonomy for the council as the Island’s largest housing authority.
She also paid tribute to her predecessor, John Skinner who, together with his wife, Gill Skinner as mayoress, had completed ‘a wonderful year.
She went on to announce the two charities to benefit from the 2017-2018 mayoral charity appeal, Rebecca House and the Pitts’ family charity, Dot’s Dream Foundation, formed in 2011 in memory of her mother, and, in closing said: ‘I vow to work hard and to be the best ambassador for Douglas and Douglas Borough Council for the forth coming municipal year.’
In a vote of thanks to the retiring mayor Council leader David Christian praised John Skinner for presiding over the monthly meetings of the full council with fairness and for affording members a degree of latitude at times. The mayor’s business lunch he hosted had proved exceptionally well supported and had generated valuable contacts, not least inspiring a number of local businesses to follow the council’s example and consider providing young people with work experience opportunities.
In closing Councillor Christian said: ‘John and Gill have carried out their duties with dignity, pride and enthusiasm,’ and that they had given ‘110 per cent’ during their tenure as mayor and mayoress of Douglas.
Seconding the vote of thanks Ritchie McNicholl said John Skinner and his wife had given ‘exemplary service’ as mayor and mayoress, carrying out their duties with thoughtfulness and enthusiasm, and that they had worked in partnership to promote a positive image of the council and the Borough of Douglas.
In his response John Skinner said that it had been ‘an honour and a privilege’ to serve Douglas and its people as ‘first citizen’. He paid special tribute to his mayoress, his wife Gill, ‘for her support and encouragement’ and in closing expressed his deep gratitude to his family, saying: ‘Their support has been steadfast and true.’
For the 2017-2018 municipal year Linda Curphey will serve as mayoress, Stephen Pitts as deputy mayor and Paula O’Brien as deputy mayoress.
The Archdeacon of the Isle of Man, the Ven Andrew Brown, will serve as mayor’s chaplain.
Photo - The new Mayor of Douglas, Councillor Debbie Pitts, with her father, Councillor Stephen Pitts, who will serve as deputy mayor. Picture Andrew Barton.