Kentville mayor, councillor accuse each other of code of conduct breaches
Allegations levelled by Mayor Sandra Snow, Coun. Andrew Zebian to be dealt with in April
Ongoing friction on the town council of Kentville, N.S., has led to allegations of breaches of the town's code of conduct, with the mayor and a councillor filing reports against each other.
Two of the code of conduct allegations have been lodged by Mayor Sandra Snow against Coun. Andrew Zebian.
Snow said one written claim that Zebian made a "blatantly untrue" statement in a Facebook post that she was discriminating against him based on his skin colour, and in a second claim she said he was "disrespectful and disruptive" at a council meeting in mid-February.
"His actions in this chamber have been disgraceful, unprofessional and childish," Snow said in a statement at a council meeting late last month.
The mayor indicated in the statement that the situation goes back to 2020 when council dealt with a personnel matter behind closed doors, but details were subsequently leaked.
It involves a letter written by the town's former chief administrative officer that alleged the mayor made inappropriate remarks about employees loud enough for them to hear.
In an interview, Snow said it's been difficult to chair meetings with a member who "doesn't think the rules apply to him."
Zebian has also filed claims against Snow. In one, he alleges ongoing harassment and belittling, saying "I have been dismissed, disrespected and disregarded during meetings."
He also made a plea during a council discussion on Feb. 28.
"Let's just make a path somehow to work as a team and get back on track because it's evident that there's a personal vendetta here," said Zebian.
All four allegations will be evaluated by deputy mayor Cate Savage and town council at a special meeting in April.
In an email to CBC News, Zebian said he is not convinced "council's working relationship can be repaired." Zebian said he has also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission that is now under review.
Snow asked that Zebian take down his Facebook posts, but he refused. He asked that she retract the comments she made at last month's council meeting, but he said she refused.
Coun. Cathy Maxwell suggested part of the discussion should take place in a closed door session. But the town's solicitor, Geoff Muttart, said elected officials are not considered personnel and "there's absolutely nothing about the complaints that's private and confidential."
"It's not about your comfort, or their comfort. These are allegations about what they have done as public figures," said Muttart.
The tensions have already led to changes to how town council conducts meetings, including the adoption of Robert's Rules of Order.
Snow partially blames the situation on the pandemic.
"COVID has done a disservice when it comes to training and the ability to gel as a council," said Snow.
Kentville town council took part in a workshop put on by the Department of Municipal Affairs in December. It covered conflict of interest, conduct of meetings and the role of councillors. A second session is planned for Thursday.
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