KEARNEY – Kearney council has officially voted for the mayor to resign, but he is standing his ground.
The mayor responded calmly to a request by council to tender his resignation after being found in contravention of the municipality’s bylaw in regards to Violence and Harassment in the Workplace.
A resolution requesting that Kearney mayor Paul Tomlinson resign from his position on council was brought forward by Coun. Steve Sainsbury at the onset of the Sept. 7 council meeting and requested that it be placed ahead a resolution already on the agenda to censure the mayor.
Tomlinson’s answer when asked to resign was no.
The mayor declared a conflict of pecuniary interest and left the council chambers while council discussed the issue.
The resolution for resignation states that the mayor was found in contravention of the bylaw, specifically for harassment and bullying.
“And further this council believes the mayor’s conduct has fallen below the standards of conduct which are expected of a member of council; and further this council believes that the operation of the workplace should be free from harassment and bullying; and further it is recognized that the mayor’s behaviour has forced the creation of remedial actions that negatively impact the effectiveness of the Town’s ongoing operations; be it resolved that the Council of the Corporation of the Town of Kearney formally request the immediate resignation of Mayor Tomlinson,” states the resolution.
“I do not agree. I intend to stay the full four-year term,” he replied.
Before stepping out of the room Tomlinson read from a prepared statement acknowledging that he was found in contravention of the bylaw, offering apologies for the transgressions of the bylaw.
He says he created anxiety and distraction from important council issues as well as time consumed and expenses incurred.
“I will be conscious and most careful in my behaviour in this regard going forward,” he said.
He also said he would agree to attend any sensitivity training recommended.
“It is my desire that we move forward in a harmonious manner as council and staff continue to work together towards the betterment of our town,” he stated.
Sainsbury requested that council, before voting on the resolution, consider the pattern of ongoing inappropriate behaviour and unsuccessful attempts on the part of council to stop it.
“Consider the time, energy and cost that has and will continue to be spent on this,” he said. “Consider what could be achieved if this efforts were focused on other priorities.”
Sainsbury says it is council’s obligation to provide a work environment free from harassment and bullying.
“Unfortunately the Municipal Act doesn’t give us the authority to force him to resign,” he said.
He continued to say that it is in the best interest of the municipality that the request be made.
Coun. Yvonne Wills stated she had been having ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and was told that council could, if they chose to, request a delegation with Minister Kathleen Wynne to ask for the mayor’s resolution.
The motion carried with only Councillors Barry Dingwall and Louise Wadsworth voting against. Councillors Ken Ball, Art Murdy, Steve Sainsbury and Yvonne Wills voted in favour of asking the mayor to resign.
The resolution to censure the mayor in this matter was passed anonymously. That however, didn’t end the discussion. Question period also continued during Tomlinson’s absence from the room.
“The only thing I’m worried about right now is if that man doesn’t step down we’re in for a law suit,” said area resident Larry Morris. “Or, as we see every day in the paper, someone is going to come through that door and start shooting.”
He told council that if they mayor doesn’t step down the general public will be put in danger.
Resident Calvin Cope asked the members of council who agreed ask the mayor to resign if they would pursue the matter further. They agreed.