Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell is responding to allegations of deep division and bitter infighting on town council.
Some alleged incidents have come to light following a ‘hot mic’ comment from Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Chris Leahy.
During a meeting earlier this month, Leahy made an offensive comment about Regional Councillor Rhonda Mulcahy.
In the aftermath of the incident, Leahy issued several apologies and filed a complaint against himself with the town’s integrity commissioner.
Mayor Mitchell admits there are divisions on council, but doesn’t see them as a problem or a roadblock to an effective municipal government.
“[The issues] did begin very early in this council,” explained Mitchell.
He said most of the infighting happens between four council members.
Mitchell says Regional Councillor Elizabeth Roy and Regional Councillor Rhonda Mulcahy really don’t get get along with Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Chris Leahy and Regional Councillor Steve Yamada.
“I have spoken to [council] members,” said the mayor. “We really need to try and put these differences– the divisions between particularly those four individuals– aside, because they’re going to block the work we can do together.”
“I have not had a lot of success,” he continued. “I can’t mend [the divisions] on my own, obviously.”
Other than the deputy mayor’s comment, Mitchell notes there have not been any official complaints to the town’s integrity commissioner.
He also says there have been no official grievances filed with the town’s Chief Administrative Officer.
“He’s not aware of any complaint or request to address a problem,” said Mitchell. “Members of council go to him, just as they go to me, to sort of grumble about the others. And again, it’s those four councillors grumbling about each other.”
Moving forward, Mitchell hopes any divisions or rifts can be repaired.
“It would be nice, obviously, for the members to try and set this aside,” he said. “It’s just very hard to move a positive vision forward when there’s internal divisions.”
When asked about allegations that he is fueling the division on council, Mitchell said there are a number of “vague” and “unsubstantiated” accusations going around.
He would not elaborate, other than to say he is not aware of who is making allegations about his behaviour.