Optics surrounding hiring questionable
Itís official - yet another councillor is leaving Town of St. Paulís council chambers for a position as a Town of St. Paul employee.
This time, Gary Ward will be taking up the recreation director position, left by Scott Walker. Ward has been heavily involved with several recreation organizations, like the Junior B Canadiens, minor hockey and baseball. Given his dedication to recreation, the community and local sports teams, his appointment makes sense, and he will probably do a good job in his new role.
But what are the optics surrounding giving a councillor a position as a town employee without an open and healthy competition? Barely enough time passed between the announcement of Walkerís resignation to have cake and sign a farewell card, let alone advertise and interview for the position. People do study and train to fill town administrative roles like recreation director, after all.
Ward is the third councillor in six years to get a job working for the town; former councillor Ron Boisvert was appointed CAO six years ago, while councillor Trevor Kotowich was appointed fire chief last year. There was open competition for the roles of CAO and the fire chief, but this last position of rec. director was not advertised and there was no competiton. Either way, the message looks as though if you want to work for the Town of St. Paul, first successfully run for council.
At this point, council has decided not to hold a by-election to fill the hole left by Wardís absence. There have been two recent instances where council prevaricated on holding a by-election: the first was with Guy Germainís untimely death in 2008 and the second was with Kotowichís resignation last October. One of the views expressed at the time of Germainís death was that council agreed on most issues and mayor and council felt they could operate just as effectively with one less councillor.
In both of those cases, Municipal Affairs stated that the Town of St. Paul must hold a by-election within 90 days of a councillor vacating a position. In this case, because the next municipal election will be held within 18 months and council consists of at least six people, a by-election is not needed, saving some time and money. However, it means that St. Paul citizens will once again have one less voice at the council table, one less representative, one less person to call in times of emergency, because a councillor was once again hired as a town employee.
Nepotism and politics are not meant to go hand in hand. It is simply not good practice. Letís have open competition for town jobs and let the best man or woman for the position prevail.
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