Two members of Crossfield Town council have resigned from their positions, citing a “dysfunctional and toxic” council and administrative team.
Deputy Mayor Liz Grace and Coun. Beth Gabriel both tendered their resignations at a special Town council meeting June 22.
“Numerous times over the past three years I have been left feeling that the majority of this council is either unwilling or incapable of holding the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of this town accountable,” Grace said in a letter she read to council. “Too many hours and too many resources have been diverted from doing the work this community needs to deal with code of conduct violations and endless infighting.
“I am hopeful that the remaining council team will focus on the work ahead and not put any of our tax dollars towards fighting against me for speaking out.”
In a similar letter read at the meeting, Gabriel said she felt she had success on a one-on-one level with Crossfield residents, but there were "trust issues" between council and administration that limited the municipality’s ability to move forward on issues.
“It has been apparent on several occasions that the thoughts and opinions of one or more members of council are simply disregarded,” she said. “With the majority of council unable or unwilling to keep things in check, I fear I am at a point where the damage is irreparable."
The resignations come after the Town’s CAO, Ken Bosman, stirred controversy June 7 by posting a lengthy response to a resident on the Crossfield Community Forum Facebook page. The post criticized elements of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following Bosman’s post, Mayor Jo Tennant wrote a letter on behalf of council denouncing the CAO’s statements. The letter was posted to the Town’s website and social media channels June 14.
However, following a special Town council meeting the same day, the letter was removed and replaced with a statement indicating the letter was composed by “a subset of council, acting without the authority of council as a whole.” According to the statement, the letter violated the Municipal Government Act, which requires council to act as a whole on matters of policy.
The Town will conduct an internal review of Bosman's Facebook comments and Tennant's subsequent letter. Tennant and Grace had to recuse themselves from the investigation, due to their "established bias" against Bosman.
While the June 22 special council meeting was open to the public, Gabriel said the meeting was not advertised ahead of time, nor was it live-streamed and posted on the Town’s YouTube channel, as had been the case with previous council meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reached for comment after the meeting, Tennant said she knew the two councillors’ decisions to resign were not made lightly, and she wished to thank them both for their dedication to the community.
“Crossfield has greatly benefited from their time on council,” she said.
According to a June 24 statement from the Town, a by-election to fill the two vacancies will be announced at the next council meeting, slated for July 7. At that meeting, council and staff will determine a date for the by-election.
“As we move forward, council is committed to supporting the community, and we will continue to work towards a future we know Crossfield deserves,” the statement said.