Northern Arm mayor and five councillors resign
Inability to work with deputy mayor citied as reasoning
What has been described as a “toxic” work environment brought about the resignation of Northern Arm Mayor Lloyd Hunter on Sept. 22, followed days later by five of six town councillors.
A statement issued on behalf of the five councillors by Fred Butler – one of the five to resign – indicated the departure from council, effective Sept. 25, stemmed from an inability to work with the town’s deputy mayor, Michael Tremblett.
In an interview with The Central Voice, Butler indicated this had been an ongoing matter for some time.
“There has been nit picking and grandstanding (from the deputy mayor) resulting in a very toxic work environment, minor issues blown completely out of proportion,” said Butler. “Neither one of us felt very happy about this, because it was only a year into the term, but the stress that was being caused in council meetings, and the fact that we had not accomplished anything, we felt when the mayor stepped down things we’re only going to get worse.
“That’s when we decided, rather reluctantly, to resign.”
The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came a few weeks ago, when the deputy mayor filed a conflict of interest claim against the mayor.
Tremblett filed a complaint with the Department of Municipal Affairs, suggesting Hunter was in conflict surrounding a matter that involved his wife – the town clerk manager –in June. Tremblett claimed the mayor was a part of discussions and vote, surrounding the town clerk manager’s employment.
The other councillors refute those allegations.
In their joint statement this week, the councilors say discussions surrounding the contract of the town manager was carried out, along with several other contracts, by six members of council on April 16 in a joint meeting of Finance and Human Resources.
They say the mayor excused himself from the town clerk manager discussions.
When presented to council for ratification, June 19, the statement points out an in-camera discussion was held, and mayor Hunter left the room.
Upon his return, a vote took place, with Hunter abstaining from the contract vote for his wife, the statement reads.
The joint statement is a reflected in the adopted minutes of the council meetings, copies of which were provided to The Central Voice.
“Mayor Hunter was going to leave the room for the vote; but, it was suggested by a councillor that it wasn’t necessary because we had thoroughly discussed the contract; and, nobody present objected to the councillor’s suggestion,” read the statement.
Butler maintains that council did nothing wrong.
“(Municipal Affairs) who we are answerable to as a council, are well aware of all the background information that is necessary, and if we had done anything wrong I’m sure it would have been pointed out to us,” he said. “But we were never told any such thing.
“We decided to resign and put this back in the lap of (Municipal Affairs) to try and rectify the problem and get the town back on even keel,” Butler said.
“To see this council go down the tube because of one person… is a bit much.” - Northern Arm Mayor, Lloyd Hunter
Mayor stands by minutes
Hunter, who has resigned as mayor, said the minutes reflect how things unfolded and clears him of wrongdoing.
But, ultimately, he decided to step down.
“My desire . . . to volunteer my service to council had diminished to the point where I decided to resign,” Hunter said. “I felt I was the obstacle in the chair that the deputy mayor was trying to get at.”
He too claimed Tremblett had been counterproductive to municipal operations, and was saddened to hear it had led to so many resignations.
“It’s a crime that we had to go this route,” said Hunter. “We had some young blood and good ideas, but we’ve been the last year battling with issues from the deputy mayor. We were all new, and (knew) there (would be) little glitches, but if it was noted and brought forward, we will deal with it.
“To see this council go down the tube because of one person… is a bit much.”
Hunter didn’t say if he would run for council again, but stated he still has an interest in seeing the town moving forward.
It now leaves Tremblett as the lone councillor.
He said the resignations are the prerogative of those who stepped down, but he didn’t agree with the statement that his involvement has been harmful to council.
“I’m one, there are five other councillors and a mayor,” he said. “They have six votes to my one, regardless of what I say and what I do, they still control the agenda and what goes on in council.”
And contrary to the statement of other councillors and the reflection
“I’m one, there are five other councillors and a mayor. They have six votes to my one, regardless of what I say and what I do, they still control the agenda and what goes on in council.” - Deputy mayor, Michael Tremblett
of the minutes, Tremblett maintains conflict of interest took place, and that the resignations are simply an attempt to “whitewash” the situation.
Tremblett feels the resignations caused more harm than good.
“What was gained? absolutely nothing. All it did was harm the community,” he said, adding the municipality needs to operate and a defunct council slows progress.
Regardless of how things played out, it leaves the town without a council that can reach quorum.
The Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment has given Tremblett approval, upon the condition that he proceed immediately, to carry out the functions of convening a meeting to call a by-election.
The lone councillor also has the authority to approve payment of accounts payable for the town.
“This will be in effect until such time that a quorum of councillors is elected or appointed,” Municipal Affairs stated in a prepared press release.