By: Tony Davis
A question about current city Chief Administrative Officer Peter Kelly causedÂ controversy at Wednesdayâ€™s mayoral debate at UPEIâ€™s W.A. Murphy Student Centre.
A report from Alberta decided Kelly acted outside his authority while working asÂ CAO in Albertaâ€™s Westlock County, charges Kelly has publically denied. Despite theÂ report, Kelly was given the top unelected city position. His appointment dominatedÂ local headlines for much of 2016.
Wayne Thibodeau, managing editor for the Guardian asked the question aboutÂ Kellyâ€™s future with the municipality.
â€œWill Mr. Kelly stay on as CAO if you are elected mayor?â€
Candidate Kim Devine did not like the question asked about a top city official.
â€œI think it is really inappropriate to talk about personnel. That is an extremelyÂ inappropriate questionâ€¦ to talk about a person in a top management position at cityÂ hall and I am not going to address it,â€ her comment drew applause from the packedÂ room at the Student Centre.
Phlip Brown, another candidate for Charlottetownâ€™s top seat didnâ€™t shy away fromÂ the question, he said he plans to review government services like most do when aÂ new government is elected.
â€œYou take a look at your upper management, take a review of the upperÂ management of our corporation. Take a look at the operations of the corporation.â€
Brown was concerned the 2017 financial operating statements have not beenÂ submitted yet, he said.
Cecil Villard is also running for mayor in the municipal election and he heardÂ rumours about Brownâ€™s plans if elected, he said.
â€œThere was a number of people, specifically staff that worked at the city corporationÂ that indicated to me that Mr. Brown told them that if he was elected mayor for theÂ city of Charlottetown one of the first things he was going to do is to fire Peter Kelly.â€
Brown was visibly frustrated, he said Villard was telling people this at the door andÂ it was unfair.
â€œI never said that.â€
However Villard insisted, Brown told people he would fire Kelly if elected.
Brown denied the allegation again, accusing Villard of playing dirty.
â€œI never told anyone I would fire Peter Kelly.â€
During Villardâ€™s assertion a member of the crowd yelled trying to get him to answerÂ the question, â€œTell us what you would do then?â€
â€œPeter Kellyâ€™s performance will determine his longevity with city,â€ Villard said.
Jamie Larkin, another candidate on stage didnâ€™t address Kelly directly, but did speakÂ about what he heard from seasonal city officials who supported him early on.
â€œThey were told by the candidate and his team, that if they supported me they wouldÂ lose their job with the city.â€
Larkin thinks it is time for this old school politics and bullying to go. EveryoneÂ should be able to vote for whom they want, he said.
The fifth candidate for Charlottetownâ€™s top seat, William McFadden did notÂ participate in the question.
A member in the audience was unhappy there were rumours being brought up onÂ stage.
â€œA debate is based on facts,â€ they shouted.
Photo by: The Guardian