Angelo Bentivegna as a Deputy Mayor: it could work out very well for the city and give him a chance to mature as a politician

By Pepper Parr

December 28th, 2022



The Deputy Mayor with Portfolio is a new model of governance for Burlington city council.

The roles will evolve as the term progresses. Each member is encouraged to make the role their own and build on it, in conversation with the Mayor. The Deputy Mayor will lead on initiatives and work closely with the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office on the areas of focus in their portfolio, and with other Deputy Mayors where their portfolios include complementary activities.

Whatever the Deputy Mayors propose it is clearly going to have to meet the Mayor’s agenda – nothing new there.

All roles will include:

• being the point person for community liaison on these items
• leading on motions or resolutions to committee & council
• participating in intergovernmental meetings & delegations

In her announcement Mayor Meed Ward set out what each Councillor would focus on as a Deputy Mayor.

Angelo Bentivegna during his first run for office.

The portfolio for ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna as a Deputy Mayor for Recreation and Community Services builds on Councillor Bentivegna’s decades of volunteerism in the community, including with the hospital, sports clubs, and the Gift of Giving Back – Canada’s largest youth-led food drive. This also builds on his work on our Accessibility Advisory Committee and Inclusivity Advisory Committee.

This portfolio will include:

• Involvement in the review and implementation of our Recreation and Cultural Master Plan, which will occur this term. This review will determine park needs and community amenity needs going forward
• Liaising and support to the charitable sector, and connecting non-profit organizations with City Hall and City Council
• Promoting community pride and inclusion. This includes new ways to support all our diverse communities and cultures within our city and region
• Co-sponsor with the Deputy Mayor for Community Engagement & Partnerships on community funding opportunities at the City and Region and private sponsorship opportunities for city projects.

The creation of Deputy Mayors with a Portfolio is probably a first for the province. It was a bold and creative initiative that has the potential to serve the city well.

The concept of a Deputy Mayor with a portfolio is a very good idea and I think a first for an Ontario municipality. Councillor Sharman called it brilliant – he wasn’t wrong.

The challenge for these men and woman serving as Deputy Mayors will be to move from focusing on photo ops which is what basically got them elected. It was all the public got to see.

So – what can we expect from Angelo Bentivegna.

He has not excelled as a city councillor, struggling often to understand major items on the agenda

Bentivegna is personable if thin-skinned. He knows how to work a room and he did manage to go from a less than 50 vote plurality in 2018 to a serious majority in 2022 – against a very credible candidate.

There are those who speak of a bit of an authoritarian streak –it has to be his way.

However, given the portfolio he has and the serious problems that exist within Parks and Recreation (where they are waiting for the announcement of a new Director) this may be the occasion where Bentivegna blossoms as a politician; where he leads with initiatives of his own.

Angelo has wanted to be a member of Council for a long time. He ran in 2014 and lost, won in 2018 by a very slim less than 50 votes.

The change council decided to make in how the Rate and Fees schedule will be applied to the Seniors’ Centre gives him the opening he needs to call meetings and listen then formulate policy initiatives that he can take to Council. He will have to get anything he wants to do past the Mayor and learn how to get Staff onside.

Angelo Bentivegna preparing biscotti for the oven.

During his first election Angelo would make up a batch of biscotti, package it and take it along as a gift to the senior members of Staff he was introducing himself – before he was elected.

The Gazette will be doing a profile on each of the council members and the portfolio the Mayor has given them as Deputy Mayors.

The creation of the Deputy Mayor role was a bold initiative – it will be interesting to see if other municipalities pick up on the idea.

More importantly, it will be interesting to see how the six members of Council respond to the challenge.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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3 comments to Angelo Bentivegna as a Deputy Mayor: it could work out very well for the city and give him a chance to mature as a politician

  • R. Velocci

    It’s adding a title for the job that usually done before. May raise future salary.
    Chop,chop ,chop! these expensive salaries.

  • The intent of our delegation on the Bistro knowing Angelo Bentivegna was the Deputy Mayor was to determine his interest in addressing a budget item where the information before committee and then Council put forward by responsible staff to aid council in their budget decision making, was inaccurate. It was in fact described by knowledgeable members of the Burlington community as “a lie”.

    We had used the term “staff were not being candid with Council” and requested the matter be pulled from the agenda. The purpose of that request being to have Council and primarily the Deputy Mayor and the former seniors councillor investigate the accuracy of the information being put forward by staff to aid Council make budget decisions which was not spotted at Committee.
    The Mayor clearly saw the need to get the item off the agenda after our delegation but her reasoning was definitely different to ours.

    No matter how good an idea the Deputy Mayor portfolio is councillors must show they are not just accepting what they are told by staff is accurate in terms of information that guides decisions on their most important task. Especially when they can get answers to questions the public cannot get no matter how hard they try.

    This was one example of inaccurate information fed to Council that was picked up by members of the public right after election burn out and at a very busy time of the year for those like ourselves..How many more much more expensive decisions are based on inaccurate information in this budget and the following budgets for this term will never be known. THAT is the lesson we were trying our hardest to get across with seemingly very limited success as the councillor web cast discussion clearly shows..

    Getting the item pulled from the agenda was seen as worth the time and effort for us, BUT far from achieving what it should have in terms of Council’s decision making responsibilities being geared to the well-being and best interests of residents. The impact of this decision and what Council needs to question far surpasses the impact on seniors who do not have a Bistro that serves their needs as staff claimed it did. An impact solely due to a past city manager taking the management out of competent hands that served us all well in terms of what it provided and the profit it made.

  • Eve st Clair

    The whole Deputy Mayor gig is an absolute waste. What is the point of having senior staff who essential do the same thing ?