Regina's city clerk leaving in 1 week

Joni Swidnicki, the Regina official who was at the centre of some controversy over a referendum campaign, is resigning effective Dec. 20.

City clerk Joni Swidnicki, the Regina official who was at the centre of some controversy over a referendum campaign, is resigning effective Dec. 20, according to a report published on the city's website.

Swidnicki will be immediately replaced by Jim Nicol, a senior bureaucrat in the city manager's office and a long time civil servant in the province. The report says no competition was held for Swidnicki's replacement because of Nicol's "fine performance ... to date and the obvious strong rapport that he enjoys with council and administration."

Swidnicki gave notice that she was leaving on Nov. 12.

As city clerk, Swidnicki was responsible for overseeing the process that led to a referendum on a proposal for work on a new waste-water treatment plant.

The activist group Regina Water Watch led the campaign and leaders of that group often found themselves disagreeing, strongly, with how Swidnicki applied the rules.

At one point, Swidnicki determined that a petition, seeking a referendum, did not have enough valid names on it because the year "2013" was not noted on some forms. The referendum was held anyway.

Prior to the vote, however, Swidnicki was in the spotlight over the issue of who could monitor the voting process.

Swidnicki at first said scrutineers would be limited, but then reversed herself.

The level of tension grew so great that at one point the leader of Water Watch, Jim Holmes, said he had lost confidence in the impartiality of officials.

"We're very concerned," Holmes said on Aug. 16. "We can no longer trust [the city] to ensure a fair referendum."

Swidnicki was working in Regina on a secondment from Brandon, Manitoba, where she was that city's deputy city clerk. She has been in Regina since May of 2008.

As a secondment, Swidnicki's pay is listed on Brandon's public accounts, although the City of Regina provides Brandon with an amount equal to that pay. According to the 2012 public accounts, Swidnicki earned $137,183.

Nicol has been with the city since 2007. Prior to that he was a provincial civil servant for 19 years. His pay, in 2012, was $160,529.


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