By: Tony Davis
A question about current city Chief Administrative Officer Peter Kelly caused controversy at Wednesday’s mayoral debate at UPEI’s W.A. Murphy Student Centre.
A report from Alberta decided Kelly acted outside his authority while working as CAO in Alberta’s Westlock County, charges Kelly has publically denied. Despite the report, Kelly was given the top unelected city position. His appointment dominated local headlines for much of 2016.
Wayne Thibodeau, managing editor for the Guardian asked the question about Kelly’s future with the municipality.
“Will Mr. Kelly stay on as CAO if you are elected mayor?”
Candidate Kim Devine did not like the question asked about a top city official.
“I think it is really inappropriate to talk about personnel. That is an extremely inappropriate question… to talk about a person in a top management position at city hall and I am not going to address it,” her comment drew applause from the packed room at the Student Centre.
Phlip Brown, another candidate for Charlottetown’s top seat didn’t shy away from the question, he said he plans to review government services like most do when a new government is elected.
“You take a look at your upper management, take a review of the upper management of our corporation. Take a look at the operations of the corporation.”
Brown was concerned the 2017 financial operating statements have not been submitted yet, he said.
Cecil Villard is also running for mayor in the municipal election and he heard rumours about Brown’s plans if elected, he said.
“There was a number of people, specifically staff that worked at the city corporation that indicated to me that Mr. Brown told them that if he was elected mayor for the city of Charlottetown one of the first things he was going to do is to fire Peter Kelly.”
Brown was visibly frustrated, he said Villard was telling people this at the door and it was unfair.
“I never said that.”
However Villard insisted, Brown told people he would fire Kelly if elected.
Brown denied the allegation again, accusing Villard of playing dirty.
“I never told anyone I would fire Peter Kelly.”
During Villard’s assertion a member of the crowd yelled trying to get him to answer the question, “Tell us what you would do then?”
“Peter Kelly’s performance will determine his longevity with city,” Villard said.
Jamie Larkin, another candidate on stage didn’t address Kelly directly, but did speak about what he heard from seasonal city officials who supported him early on.
“They were told by the candidate and his team, that if they supported me they would lose their job with the city.”
Larkin thinks it is time for this old school politics and bullying to go. Everyone should be able to vote for whom they want, he said.
The fifth candidate for Charlottetown’s top seat, William McFadden did not participate in the question.
A member in the audience was unhappy there were rumours being brought up on stage.
“A debate is based on facts,” they shouted.
Photo by: The Guardian