ST. MARY’S – Setting what could be a new land speed record for political change in St. Mary’s, after only two days on the job, freshly minted Warden Gregory Wier last week announced the resignation of long-serving councillor Peggy Kaiser-Kirk, the former rival for his new position.
Following a hastily convened in-camera council meeting held Oct. 30, CAO Marvin MacDonald sent The Journal this statement: “The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s wishes to advise the residents of Councillor Kaiser-Kirk’s resignation from St. Mary’s municipal council as of today, October 30th, 2020. Council would like to thank Councillor Kaiser-Kirk for her 8 years of service to the Municipality and wish her the very best in her future endeavours.”
The statement was signed, simply, “Warden Wier”.
In an email, MacDonald added: “It was a personal decision by Councillor Kaiser-Kirk to submit her resignation and we wish her all the best in the future.”
Kaiser-Kirk did not respond to emailed requests for further information.
In an interview with Wier, who was acclaimed councillor for St. Mary’s District 3/5 in the October 17 municipal election, the Oct. 30 meeting was “called by the CAO to deal with a legal matter. It was an in-camera session, so I cannot comment on anything that happened there.”
When asked if Kaiser-Kirk, who was acclaimed in District 8, attended the meeting, Wier said, “She was going to be invited but she had resigned before it took place.”
Earlier that day, a source sent The Journal a screenshot of a Facebook post that appeared to bear Kaiser-Kirk’s name and photo. The comment, which disparaged the antics of certain characters in a “movie,” concluded: “It was hilarious! The world of Never-Land is now murky with no transparency at all. We’re doomed! LOL.”
Kaiser-Kirk did not respond to a direct question asking whether she wrote the post.
Asked whether he was aware of the post, Wier said, “It was brought to my attention on the morning after the inaugural meeting of the new council [October 28].”
Asked whether he believed the post may have had something to do with Kaiser-Kirk’s resignation, he said, “I’m not sure. I guess, possibly, it could have. I know that the choice [to resign] was solely her own.”
Asked whether the meeting was specifically about Kaiser-Kirk’s resignation, he said, “I don’t know what I am at liberty to say.”
Wier, a political newcomer who lives in Aspen and works at High-Crest Nursing Home, edged out Kaiser-Kirk for the warden’s job after a vote of 4-3 at the Oct. 28 council meeting. Fellow rookie councillor James Fuller – acclaimed in District 6 – a semi-retired public servant and police sergeant who lives on Lochiel Lake, defeated incumbent councillor Beulah Malloy – acclaimed in District 4 – for the deputy warden post.
Other new council members include Charlene Zinck (District 2), and Courtney Mailman (District 1). Apart from Malloy, the only other incumbent is Everett Baker (District 7).
Wier said he hopes to put “this rocky start” behind him.
“We have a very diverse group now,” he said. “I think the majority of our councillors are new. And I’m hoping that with the fresh thoughts of the new councillors, and the wisdom of the incumbent councillors who are left, we can move forward and represent the people of the District of St. Mary’s to the best of our abilities. We got off to a bit of a rocky start, but it’s going to be a good council.”
One substantive change during the inaugural meeting was the reduction of the terms of office for warden and deputy warden – from four years to two. “This gives more of an opportunity for other members of council to take a more active role without having to wait four years before putting their names forward,” Wier said. “It gives more people a better perspective about how things are run.”
According to CAO MacDonald, the process to fill Kaiser-Kirk’s seat will start “right away,” but it will require “certain things to be done that are on time lines…. There will be a by-election, but it will likely be early in the calendar year. If there’s only one candidate it would be by acclamation.”