Essex council dismisses CAO

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

harrow-high-tour-004by Fred Groves

The Town of Essex has fired its Chief Administrative Officer.

Following a closed session meeting last Tuesday night in which council met to discus a personnel issue, Tracey Pillon-Abbs was dismissed.

An Essex resident, Pillon-Abbs had been on the job for 10 months. She came from Leamington where she had held a senior management position.

Upon her hiring in July of 2016, she was praised for her ‘breath of experience.’

Media reports had Essex Mayor Ron McDermott stating, “In some of the council members’ eyes, she was doing a super job. Other people didn’t feel that way.”

Her removal seems to have divided Essex Town Council. Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said Pillon-Abbs did not live up to expectations.

“It wasn’t a mistake (to fire her) she should have been let go,” Meloche said.

A proponent of the Town’s now former top executive, Councillor Randy Voakes opted not to remain tight-lipped on the dismissal and flatly said the decision was wrong.

“Dismissing her was a huge mistake. She was going to put Essex back on the map if they just gave her the opportunity,” Voakes commented.

“She was a quick learner and she had grown into the job in a very short time,” he added.

With Councillor Steve Bjorkman unavailable to vote on the decision due to health reasons, that left the decision up to Mayor McDermott, Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, and Councillors Voakes, Sherry Bondy, Larry Snively, and Bill Caixeiro.

“We aren’t supposed to talk about how we voted,” Bondy said.

Councillor Caixeiro also had little to add to the reason for the dismissal and said it was a personnel issue.

“The only comment I have with regards to Tracey Pillon-Abbs is that she is no longer employed by the Town of Essex.”

Donna Hunter, a long-time employee of the Town and current Director of Corporate Services, is the interim CAO, the same role she filled after former CAO Russ Phillips resigned after three years on the job. As far as whether or not Council will seek out another permanent CAO, Meloche commented, “We haven’t made that decision yet.”

Pillon-Abbs who would not provide a comment, has been offered a severance package.