West Nipissing councillor quits in anger over 'dysfunctional' and 'toxic' council
NORTH BAY -- A West Nipissing municipal councillor is resigning his seat over his claims that the council he is a part of is "dysfunctional" and creates a "toxic" working environment, among other personal reasons.
Ward 7 Councillor Jeremy Seguin said the way other councillors and the mayor act is highly inappropriate and they are not serving to better the municipality.
Seguin, who was elected to his first term in 2018, said is stepping down due to family commitments, work responsibilities and the so called 'bad blood' within council.
"I have never, in my whole entire life, seen a (more) toxic group and (more) dysfunctional group than this one," said Seguin, standing outside the municipal building.
Seguin said certain members of council are not showing any respect for the proceedings, other members of council or municipal staff.
Code of conduct
"Some people break our code of conduct," said Seguin. "It's gotten to the point where we were told we were not allowed to have an opinion at council. I've always seen the role of a councillor is to bring forward opinions."
Seguin said controversial public statements made by fellow councillors about wanting to fire the CAO over the tone of his voice, or the mayor writing a public letter about staff not doing an adequate job, are expressed in a biased way and are not handled appropriately.
"Some members of our council give more importance to their own biases than to actual facts," Seguin said. "It's at such a point where I don't understand how staff are still around the table."
When asked how voters in his ward might feel about his departure, Seguin said he hopes they understand his decision and hopes constituents would appreciate the work he's done since getting elected.
West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage agrees with Seguin, saying in the past little while, council has become quite dysfunctional, citing issues such as personal conflicts and a lack of respect.
"The taxpayers clearly articulated that they want to see a cohesive team working together," said Savage. "Dislike of any individual amongst the table needs to stop."
The municipality now is actively searching for Seguin's replacement.
Council was left deadlocked 4-4 in an informal vote Tuesday night on how best to fill Seguin's spot, either by giving the 2018 election runner-up the seat, or holding a byelection.
Savage said it's evident based on that deadlocked vote that council is dysfunctional and that the meeting got out hand.
"It got chaotic because of people jumping to this issue of an appointment of a specific individual," said Savage. "I think, here again, if we are acting on behalf of people and Ward 7, we should also take the time to get direction from the people."
Seguin has a simple message for his fellow councillors.
"My message to council is come join me if you don't think you're doing a service to the community," he said.
Seguin said he would consider running again in the distant future, but believes his departure will give him more time to focus on bettering the municipality in his own way.