A councillor representing Radyr has been elected as the new Lord Mayor of Cardiff during the council’s annual meeting.
Councillor Rod McKerlich was elected on Thursday, November 26 to take over the ceremonial role as head of Cardiff council from Cllr Dan De’Ath.
Cllr McKerlich, from Perth in Scotland, moved to Radyr in 1974 and was first elected to the council in 2008.
His predecessor, Cllr De’ath, was Cardiff’s first black Lord Mayor and played a pivotal role in the decision to remove the statue of Sir Thomas Picton from City Hall, as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Cllr McKerlich said: “Being chosen as Lord Mayor of Cardiff is a great honour, and I am greatly looking forward to serving as the First Citizen of Cardiff over the coming year.
“One of the pleasures of being Lord Mayor is the chance to support a charity and I can think of no better cause than Alzheimer’s Society Cymru.
“Like many people I have seen first-hand the challenges that Alzheimer’s can bring, but I also know how beneficial the support of a committed, well-organised charity like the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru can be, and hopefully the work I do in the coming year will enable them to support many others in the future.”
During the council’s annual meeting, Cllr Huw Thomas, the council leader, praised the incoming mayor and paid tribute to his predecessor.
He said: “In my view, [Cllr McKerlich] has always had an incisive and formidable, yet most affable colleague. Despite living in Cardiff for almost 50 years, Rod has never forgotten his roots.
“His Scottish heritage is still there for all to see and hear, from his dulcet tones to his eagle-eyed attention every year to council budget deficits. I would like to congratulate him and wish him the very best. I know he will do a great job for our city.”
The outgoing mayor, Cllr De’Ath, said he “enjoyed every second” of his 18 months in office, and reflected over his role in removing the Picton statue. After protesters toppled a statue of Edward Colston in Bristol in the summer, he wrote a letter to the council leader calling for the Picton monument to be removed.
Cllr De’Ath said: “I felt it was important to talk about what it’s like being a black person in politics. I never imagined that sending my letter to the leader would result in me for a few days locking horns with Adam Boulton live on Sky News, appearing on the BBC, and becoming for a short time a regular feature in the Daily Mail.
“I always find it ironic that people think the removal of the Picton statue — Picton being a man of ever-growing corpus of historical work around him — is destroying history.
“My father comes from the Caribbean. If you look back at his ancestors, almost everything about those people is gone. Who they were, how they lived, their life stories, almost everything about those people is lost in time.
“Those people were enslaved. All that’s left, really, is numbers of inventory in a property ledger, in the course of men like Thomas Picton.
“As historian David Olusoga said, Thomas Piction with no mention of slavery does a disservice to the victims of his injsutices. We do not want to destroy statues; we want to reframe them. The pedal is the issue, not the monument.”
He added: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as the 115th Lord Mayor of this truly great city. I have loved every moment, every second, every hour of every day.”