GIBBONS — The town council in Gibbons has unanimously voted to impose sanctions on their mayor, accusing him of bullying people and getting into a fight at a local pub.
Mayor Doug Horner’s roles and responsibilities will be limited for six months.
Horner won’t be able to go to the municipal offices except to pick up his mail and won’t be allowed to talk to staff other than to ask a general question involving council business.
However, Horner will remain a voting member of council and will continue to have the ceremonial title of mayor.
Horner denies some of the allegations against him and says the sanctions aren’t fair to the town, given that five of the councillors have little experience.
He says he simply hasn’t been able to “build a team” with the people he has to deal with on council.
Councillors allege in one incident, Horner verbally abused the town’s chief administrative officer in a parking lot.
“I’m standing in the middle of the parking lot having the mayor yelling in my face incessantly,” said CAO Farrell O’Malley. “He’s swearing. I’m in a professional environment just trying to have a conversation with the mayor and I’m being treated like a schoolyard kid being bullied.”
“I didn’t scream at all,” countered Horner.
Council also alleges Horner attended meetings without informing council and then failed to report the outcome of the meetings, and improperly granted a person an exemption to obtain a business licence without council’s consent.
“He seems to forget he’s only one vote,” said councillor Jean Woodger. “His heart is in the right place. He just goes about it in the wrong way.”
A deputy mayor — who will be appointed by council — will have all the official obligations and administrative responsibilities of mayor.
“It was not undertaken lightly,” said Darren McKee, another town councillor. “There was just the disregard for the other council members.”
He said there will be a mediation process that will work toward getting Horner back to being Mayor.
Horner is also hopeful the mediation process will work.
“We have real issues that need our attention,” he said. “This is cutting into the work we should be doing to attract investment and people to our town and this is going to have a negative impact.”