Mayor of Essex takes councillor to court for behaviour in council chambers
The animosity between the mayor of Essex and one councillor has kicked up a notch, all the way to the local courthouse.
Ron McDermott took Coun. Randy Voakes to court, alleging bad behaviour from the councillor as well as a breach of the Municipal Act.
“I'm here as a taxpayer, someone has to do this,” said mayor McDermott after the proceedings.
McDermott wanted a superior court judge to remove Randy Voakes from Essex town council.
“Our council has put up with this gentleman for over 14 years and our administration,” said McDermott.
Although there have been a number of outbursts between the two during council meetings, one meeting in particular was under the microscope.
In his court application, McDermott alleges Voakes broke the Municipal Act when he didn't declare a conflict of interest, even though Voakes did not vote on the motion.
“He doesn't care about our code of conduct, which neither does the judge,” said Voakes. “Terrible how our laws can allow this stuff to happen.”
Justice Thomas Carey wasn’t having it. The Windsor justice called the application “unnecessary,” saying Voakes’ conflict of interest was obvious as such, didn’t think the councillor had to say anything.
Justice Carey further admonished both for their “childish” behaviour, saying, “Mayor McDermott and Councillor Voakes didn’t need a trip to court today. They needed a trip down the hall to the Vice Principal’s office.”
Carey called on both men to move on, if for no other reason than to benefit the taxpayers of Essex.
“It’s hard to bring fruitfulness, a good harvest, if you will, to the council, when every time you take a position on something you're being challenged,” Voakes said afterwards.
Voakes was initially docked pay by the integrity commissioner for bullying, vulgar language and provoking mayor McDermott during council meetings. Voakes has also been removed from recent meetings and has been taken off of town committees for lack of attendance. While happy with the judges decision's, Voakes tells CTV News he is trying to work on his behaviour.
“I listened to the integrity commissioner,” remarked Voakes. “As you heard him say I worked on trying to improve and which I am trying to do.”
Mayor McDermott commented that he will do what he can to prevent Voakes from running in the next Municipal election in October of 2018.
Voakes wouldn’t say whether or not he will be seeking office again this term.