CORRECTION: THE PRINT ADDITION OF THIS STORY SAID MAYOR JOHN MCCHARLES WALKED LOOSLEY OUT. BRIAN MCMANAMAN WAS MAYOR AT THE TIME LOOSLEY WAS FIRED. THE INDEPENDENT REGRETS THE ERROR. HERE IS THE CORRECTED VERSION OF THE STORY.
“If you want a mayoral endorsement by the outgoing mayor, if you want someone to be controlled by the outgoing mayor, I’m not your man.”
That was Petrolia Mayoral Candidate Brad Loosley’s final comment as an all-candidates meeting – which had been the subject of controversy – came to a close Wednesday.
Loosley was referring to a full-page advertisement taken out in The Independent – and which became public debate day – by the current mayor, John McCharles. McCharles endorsed Liz Welsh – a 12 year council veteran – for the top job. “Liz is the most dedicated council person that I have witness in over my 30 years in government” McCharles said in the letter-style ad, adding she is “fair and equitable” and knows the difference between “leadership and management.”
Loosley was the town’s chief administrative officer until 2005 when he was fired. Loosley faced questions about the reasons for his departure. He said a year before he was walked out of town hall, there was a review of the town administration. “There was nothing to indicate the CAO position was to be eliminated.”
A year later, Mayor Brian McManaman handed Loosley his walking papers, including a letter of recommendation and benefits for six months. He was let go, he says, without cause, without a reason for his departure.
“It is resolved, there is nothing to hide…it was a difficult time for us after 27 years of service.” Loosley says people had asked him why he would run after being fired. “My desire remains the same, to serve the community I love.”
Welsh, who gave closing thoughts just before Loosley had no opportunity to respond. She did say there is a “renewed confidence in Petrolia” and she is optimistic about the future.
Bob Maniuk said many people had talked with him about the need to change while he campaigned for the mayor’s job. And he believes that this election will bring a “new, re energized and revitalized council.”
The eight council candidates faced questions compiled by the organizing committee of the debate. The organizers came under fire after one of its members held a campaign event for Welsh in his home. Norm Sutherland withdrew from the committee after Loosley brought the matter up with the committee.
Don Welten was one of the councillors asked if the town should have a dog park. Welten said he didn’t know much about the issue adding he knew people loved their pets, but “I don’t have a pet, I just have my wife.”
Councillors were also asked what they would with a $1 million grant. Wade Deighton said he would invest in recreation facilities. Joel Field suggested the money could be used to reopen the compost site.
When asked what councillors would do if a colleague said they had been sexually assaulted by someone on council, Nicee Graham said she had the training to deal with the situation, while Field said he would take the matter to the CAO and likely the mayor. “It’s our obligation as employers to follow up immediately,” he says.
The debate was the last formal campaign event. The final day of voting is Oct. 22.