Rough transition for some new councillors
Bussin, Walker AWOL when it comes to helping successors in new job
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 9)
Being a city councillor may be a dream job for some of the newly elected reps, but for some trying to speak to their predecessors has been a bit of a nightmare.
“I have not heard anything (from Sandra Bussin),” said Mary-Margaret McMahon who defeated the incumbent in Ward 32. “It doesn’t surprise me so I am doing what I usually do and meeting with the public and talking to city staff.
“It would be nice to have some sort of contact.”
McMahon is not even sure if any of the relevant files will be left in the office when she takes over.
“I am worried it may be old Mother Hubbard’s (bare) cupboard, but I am not sure,” said McMahon who spoke to the media after a Nov. 9 orientation session for new councillors.
Incoming Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow is in the same boat and has yet to have a post-election conversation with outgoing rep Michael Walker.
“I imagine he is disappointed in the results,” said Matlow, referring to Walker, who endorsed his executive assistant and candidate Chris Sellors instead. “I would hope Councillor Walker would meet with me to discuss transition solely in the interests of the residents he advocated for and championed for 28 years.”
“I hope he has a change of heart and I hope to have the opportunity to meet with him,” said Matlow.
Fortunately, not all defeated councillors are shunning the elected reps who beat them.
Bill Saundercook lost to Sarah Doucette in Ward 13 but is helping her transition into the office.
“He’s been very good and very helpful in handing over,” Doucette said.
“He came to my party on election day and shook my hand and congratulated me. I am meeting with him this Friday (Nov. 12) in the constituency office to talk about ongoing cases,” added Doucette. “I have been an active volunteer in the community so I know a lot of the issues he’s been dealing with.”
The same thing goes for Jaye Robinson who beat Cliff Jenkins in Ward 25.
“We are setting up a transition meeting where we will walk through the various files and issues of Ward 25, Don Valley West and proceed from there,” Robinson said. “All signs indicate he will be very cooperative and help me with the transition.”
One new councillor, Ward 10’s James Pasternak, has done his best to ensure continuity by hiring three of the four staff members who worked with retiring councillor Mike Feldman.
The only person from Feldman’s office who is not staying is his executive assistant Nancy Oomen, who ran as a council candidate coming second to Pasternak.
“We clearly reached out to Nancy,” said Pasternak. “I think she is, unless I hear otherwise, has elected to move on.”
City spokesperson Rob Andrusevich told the Town Crier there is no protocol for how outgoing councillors help new councillors transition into their offices. And he mentioned that any city documents will still be available through various departments such as planning or parks.
All 14 new councillors, the 30 returning councillors and new mayor are sworn in for a four-year term starting Dec. 1.