Integrity Commissioner targets fellow Essex politician for sanctions

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An Essex city councilor who has helped lead the Integrity Commissioner’s investigations targeting political colleagues in the past is now at the center of a code of conduct complaint.

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Robert Swayze recommends city council vote to suspend council. Salary of Sherry Bondy’s board for a period of 30 days for engaging in “inappropriate politics” for allegedly leading “public rants” and harassing city staff and employees of ELK Energy Inc ..

“This must stop,” the integrity commissioner wrote in a report presented to city council on Monday.

The complaint against Bondy was filed by Mayor Larry Snively on April 23. It came the same week that city council dealt with a report from the Integrity Commissioner calling for sanctions against a councilor whose social media posts drew widespread condemnation and were deemed “racist” by Swayze.

While conceding that she might not be the most diplomatic person at times, Bondy told the Star on Thursday that she was sticking to her words and actions and questioning Snively’s motivation. behind the investigation research.

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“It’s politically motivated by the mayor,” Bondy said. The city’s representative in Harrow made no secret of her intention to challenge Snively for mayor in October 2022.

Essex County.  Sherry Bondy is pictured in the town of Essex on Thursday July 15, 2021.
Essex County. Sherry Bondy is pictured in the town of Essex on Thursday July 15, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Contacted Thursday, Snively told The Star he would not comment until the Integrity Commissioner’s report is presented to city council. “Let’s just wait for the board meeting on Monday.

In his three-page report, Swayze writes that Bondy “has a long history of aggressively criticizing the staff” of ELK, the municipality-owned electricity distribution company that serves Essex, Lakeshore and Kingsville. Her outspokenness, especially in response to complaints of power outages from voters, resulted in her receiving a letter in November 2019 from colleagues on the ELK board “advising her that she was in breach of her duties and obligations legal as administrator “.

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According to the Integrity Commissioner, “in response to this letter, she resigned from the board of directors and continued to publicly harass staff.”

Swayze said “the most egregious post on his social media” was a cartoon, reproduced in the report, depicting an executioner leading an individual with a light bulb for a head to the gallows as a crowd sporting candles for the head looks. This follows a wave of local power outages.

“As an Integrity Commissioner for Municipalities for the past 13 years, I have explained to members of many boards that every member has the right to criticize staff as long as it is done towards other board members and done in private, ”Swayze wrote in his report.

Ironically, Bondy told The Star that those who have complained about this post – received from a friend and then shared – misunderstood it. It was “by no means” intended to represent an ELK employee taken to be hanged, but rather to be reprimanded for raising questions about the way the utility operates. Swayze, however, called this explanation “absurd.”

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Bondy affirms that the mayor “tries to silence an elected councilor” and that she has been the target of him “since I denounced the elections”.

Driven by complaints from voters alleging that proxy ballots were signed without proper consent in the 2018 municipal election, Bondy contacted police. Earlier this year, the OPP laid a charge against Snively, alleging the mayor broke electoral rules by tricking people into voting in a municipal election when they were not allowed to vote. to do.

The case is still before the courts with a pre-trial scheduled for September.

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  3. Essex Town Councilor Randy Voakes holds a press conference outside the Essex Town Hall in Essex, Ont. On August 31, 2017.

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  4. Larry Snively, Mayor of Essex, on election night in October 2018.

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“I respect the office of the Integrity Commissioner,” Bondy said. “I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I’m not saying he’s right – he hasn’t seen the whole picture.”

Bondy said she resigned from the ELK board because her dealings were considered confidential and she never had enough opportunity to ask questions. She wants the public service belonging to the municipality to become more transparent to the public.

“I don’t do my job for the paycheck – it’s about service,” said Bondy, whose work on the board pays $ 1,500 a month. “I just do what our residents and business owners ask me to do. I don’t see it as attacking staff.

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