A divide in the West Nipissing municipal council has again reared its ugly head in the form of disagreements over letters to the editor in the local weekly, accusations of improper conduct — and most recently, with the resignation of Jeremy Seguin.
According to several of the council members, this acrimony is nothing new and continues to fester. A poll of Mayor Joanne Savage and the rest of the councillors concerning the Seguin resignation and future direction of council elicited just three responses from the remaining eight members.
On Seguin's decision, Councillor Chris Fisher offers, "Jeremy is a really good guy, thoughtful, studied, and he brought a lot to the table, we were better for having him on council. I will miss him. Having said that, I can’t say that I’m entirely shocked at his exit, I personally attest that the level toxicity and dysfunction is distressing. I can’t blame him for coming to the conclusion that he did."
Seguin referred to discussions with Savage on what he thought of as "a lack of leadership," in his farewell letter.
See original story: Seguin resigns from 'toxic and dysfunctional' council
In response to that claim, Coun. Roland Larabie observes, "In my opinion, it’s unfortunate when the self-declared voice of experience is discouraging anyone who thinks independently from making a difference in their community. The last council was also dysfunctional (not as bad) but for the same reason."
Meanwhile, Coun. Dan Roveda was "quite shocked" to hear of Seguin’s decision.
"However, I respect it as it's for the right reasons," he says. "As outlined in his resignation letter, it's apparent one of the reasons was a toxic environment propelled by a lack of leadership at the helm."
Fisher says he is happy Seguin will be able to focus on another of his professional passions.
"I know from my children that he is a really good educator, he taught all three of them and they have only accolades for him."
Roveda echoes the lack of leadership claims expressed by his peers.
"I feel Jeremy was a positive attribute to our Council table, he came well prepared, he moved forward important issues with passion and commitment. In light of his resignation, he has brought forward the issue of the malfunctioning of Council is leadership."
Next comes a decision on how to fill the opening in Verner's Ward 7 left by Seguin's departure.
"Council will decide the method of filling the vacancy," Municipality of West Nipissing CAO Jay Barbeau tells BayToday. "They have the option of calling a by-election or to fill the vacancy by appointment. Offering the vacancy to the runner-up last election is certainly a viable and logical option selected by many Councils."
Seguin defeated incumbent Normand Roberge in the Ward 7 race in 2018.
Fisher applauds Seguin's move, for "having the strength to call 'enough is enough' and refocusing his efforts. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess."