The mayor of Quispamsis has been suspended without pay after he misidentified himself to gain free access to a pool, then lied to the town’s CAO about a family member being at the hospital while at the pool.
Mayor Gary Clark was suspended in connection with that incident, which occurred at the qplex pool on July 18.
Deputy Mayor Libby O’Hara detailed the complaint at council Tuesday night, which claims Clark attended the pool at 2:37 p.m. and told staff he had a membership, but did not have his card on him at the time.
Clark misidentified himself and gained free access to the pool after being asked for his name, according to O’Hara.
“The summer staff members, who thought he looked familiar, then searched the Internet,” O’Hara states. “It was at that point that they realized who he was, and that he had misidentified himself.”
It was determined that Clark purchased a $180 family membership voucher to the pool, under his name and address, on May 22. The membership was to be activated when the pool opened for the season, O’Hara said, but states “memberships are available ONLY to Town of Quispamsis residents. ID is required.”
O’Hara said the voucher was redeemed by another person, who was found to live in Rothesay.
“There are four people listed on this family membership. Mayor Clark is not one of those people and yet he identified himself using one of those names on July 18,” she said.
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Clark was also scheduled to be at the town hall for an EMO Planning Committee meeting at 2:30 p.m. on the same day, O’Hara said.
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“The CAO was advised via text message from the mayor that something had happened to a family member and that he was heading to the hospital,” O’Hara said.
“Eleven minutes later, he entered the qplex pool using an assumed name. He was also untruthful about his whereabouts during further text exchanges within the next hour as he indicated he was at the hospital.”
O’Hara said the allegations in the complaint were deemed to be founded and he later admitted to them in a written response dated Sept. 14.
“Please accept my sincere apology for the unprofessional misconduct that I displayed,” Clark write. “I acknowledge that I have compromised the integrity of my position and those I serve with … I am truly sorry for my behaviour.”
Council voted 6-1 in favour of suspending Clark from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5. Coun. Pierre Rioux was the only person to vote against it.
Clark has been suspended as official spokesperson for the council, suspended from convening all council committees and bodies to which council has the right to appoint members, suspended of remuneration, and restricted from using his privileges to attend conferences and workshops at the town’s expense.
Council ‘did their due diligence’ when addressing complaint, deputy mayor says
Deputy Mayor O’Hara says council looked at the severity of the actions that the mayor had undertaken and determined that a five-week suspension without pay was sufficient.
“With the Code of Conduct we expect a very high standard of integrity and honesty,” O’Hara said in a phone interview with Global News Wednesday afternoon. “The fact that a bylaw was broken within our town by our mayor, we took that extremely seriously.”
“I think council has down their due diligence and we have used the sanctions that were available to us.”
Global News reached out to Mayor Clark for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
O’Hara says she was “surprised, disappointed and concerned” when presented with the complaint.
“It’s certainly not a position that any one of the councillors wanted to be placed in, certainly town staff who present at the time of the breach to the Code of Conduct, nobody wanted to be in that situation,” O’Hara said. “It’s been difficult on staff and on council.”
O’Hara reiterates that Quispamsis council remains strong and will continue to move forward.
“The fact that this has happened, it is not a reflection on the town of Quispamsis. This is a reflection on one individual. Council continues to business as usual and the town is in good hands,” O’Hara concluded.