Question of the week: Tash Taylor

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As the city hurtles towards the June 24 byelection, it’s time to start asking the would-be councillors about some controversial topics.

Where else to start but with the circumstances that have sparked the byelection itself?

In late April, the now-former councillor Gilles Prefontaine tendered his resignation to city council to take up a high-level job with the City of St. Albert as the chief community development officer.

The position was a re-jigging of the old general manager of planning and engineering position. Prefontaine initially applied through the external recruitment firm that was employed to narrow down the candidate field.

The hiring of a sitting councillor to take a city position raised questions about the ethics of a councillor applying for a job to work for the city they represent.

Council’s only employee is the city manager, and the position Prefontaine now holds reports directly to the city manager. His application was not public knowledge until he’d accepted the position.

See below for the question posed on this topic by the Gazette to the eight candidates. Candidates answered the question in writing and have only been lightly edited for spelling and grammar.

The Gazette will continue to ask questions of the candidates for each edition until the June 20 edition, the last edition before the byelection.

Question:

This byelection was triggered by the resignation of Gilles Prefontaine, who took a job with the City of St. Albert, raising some questions around the ethics of sitting city councillors applying to work for the municipality they represent.

If you believe Prefontaine and the city administration’s decision was sound, please explain to the electorate why.

If you believe the decision wasn’t sound, please explain what you would do to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Tash Taylor

Employment law is quite protective of individual rights to seek and obtain employment. However, there is a power imbalance in the relationship between council and a city manager. As such, this positions the city manager in a predicament either way, should they choose to/not to hire one of their supervisors.

Expectations must be established for council and all employees, as there could be a time when a councillor wishes to work elsewhere in the corporation.

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St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.