Belfast City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to rescind two sanctions against Mayor Samantha Paradis after she clarified and apologized for some provocative statements she made two weeks ago. The motion by Councilor Eric Sanders states that Paradis may now speak for the city and is allowed to once again represent Belfast in the Mayor’s Coalition. The council also plans to hold an executive session with a facilitator to help iron out their differences.

“At last week’s special council meeting I was concerned that what happened was setting us on the wrong course for the city,” Paradis said at the beginning of the meeting. “So let me just say that while I take serious issue with the response, I also take ownership of my part in what happened. I felt a pressing, and still do feel a pressing need to raise public awareness of my concerns, but I did not fully appreciate the impact that what I wrote would have on you, fellow council members and your family.”

At its special meeting last week, councilors expressed outrage at the mayor’s Nov. 22 op-ed in the Republican Journal in which she made vague accusations of “sexism, ageism and bigotry” that she said she experienced in council meetings, but did not specify who was involved. She also called out Councilor Mike Hurley for allegedly addressing a female constituent with “aggressive behavior” and keeping an “open switchback knife on his desk.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Paradis apologized to Councilor Sanders for implying that he was a bigot and to attorney Lee Woodward for publicly berating him in the column for poking fun at her controversial city council break policy at a Chamber of Commerce dinner. Paradis also told Councilor Hurley that she “could have done a better job of characterizing” what she meant to say about his behavior.

“My intent was never to say that I think any of you are sexist, ageist, or bigots. I am not in the position to be the judge of that,” said Paradis. “I think and know that you are all honorable people who have worked tirelessly to build a great city. One that I have fallen in love with and I feel as though many of those in this room have fallen in love with. In the column I meant to convey my own experience, not who you are. In sharing my experience, it is my hope that another young, queer woman elected to the Belfast City Council will feel welcome among us.”

All the councilors thanked her for her comments. Hurley said he was initially inclined not to support the motions to rescind, but complimented her on a “very generous statement.”

“I too want to thank you for a very generous statement, heartfelt,” said Councilor Mary Mortier. “And I see that and take that as a large dose of flexibility on your behalf.”

Councilor Neal Harkness called the mayor’s statement “very gracious” and complimented Councilor Sanders on his “peacemaking abilities.”

“There is no great divide that we can’t cross,” said Harkness. “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Can’t council and the mayor meet halfway?’ And I said, ‘I’ll go a mile if she’ll come an inch.’ And she’s come much more than an inch, and I do appreciate that and I thank her.”