In the wake of the abrupt resignation of Jeremy Seguin from his position as Ward 7 councillor, West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage is giving her first public statement on the internal discord.
"I was disheartened to learn of Councillor Seguin’s resignation by email and I also foster no ill feelings with his personal decision and statement," says Savage in correspondence also shared to her personal Facebook page.
Savage adds, "I have the utmost appreciation and respect for [Seguin's] goodwill, contribution and commitment for his public service."
Seguin resigned last weekend, seemingly without notice to the municipality, nor discussion with Mayor Savage. The educator and resident of Verner admitted to frustration amid a "toxic and dysfunctional" council, along with changes in professional responsibilities and family commitments as reasons for his exit.
Savage stresses, her "personal opinion" does not differ from Councillor’s Seguin’s assertions about the council.
"The statement omitted the reasons regarding the comment of 'dysfunctional' and my opinion is identical to the reasons echoed to me by so many individuals, constituents, organizations and businesses," she says.
The Mayor highlights the reasons she believes so much strife exists, beginning with personal conflicts and "lack of respect toward the duties and responsibilities of the mayor."
Savage also feels this council does not always respect its own policies and procedures.
"Council as a whole is elected to govern the affairs of the corporation. As policymakers, their own policies and by-laws should be respected," writes Savage.
"The many occurrences of not abiding by these policies and by-laws has hindered council as a whole, and prevented us from moving forward with affairs of the corporation and the municipality."
Meanwhile, Ward 2 Councillor Leo Malette has joined some of his colleagues with his thoughts on Seguin's reasons for leaving.
"It is a very toxic environment. He was a fair individual at the table. I wish him and his family the best." observes Malette. "I am sad to see him go, his ward and all of West Nipissing, in general, will miss him."
See related story: Reaction to Seguin's resignation, 'lack of leadership' claim
Savage says, like Councillor Seguin, she has "invested much time and effort to change this dynamic," by discussing issues with council regarding roles and responsibilities, offering to "attend various orientation training, sessions and workshops," and by spending "countless hours seeking input, suggestions, and strategies to improve cohesiveness."
The Mayor adds, "Personal dislikes of any individual should be shelved. Working together in a cohesive manner is the minimum expectation of the community. Personal bias and destructive criticism of council members is extremely unproductive and needs to stop. We can and must do better!"
West Nipissing Council will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. to resume last week's contentious meeting. Items from the general government committee were abandoned and the meeting ran over after several councillors called for Mayor Savage to be reprimanded for breaching the code of conduct.