Paul Watson. (BlackburnNews.com file photo courtesy of Paul Watson)

New Integrity Commissioner chosen, Swayze out

The City of Sarnia has chosen a new integrity commissioner for the next four years, replacing Robert Swayze.

With Swayze’s contract expiring Friday, council met in special session Thursday morning to approve the bid from Paul D. Watson Law of Chatham.

The cost of $36,866 includes an annual retainer, an estimated 120 hours of service, and mileage.

Swayze’s low bid of $18,000 in an initial request for proposals was not approved and staff was directed to issue a second RFP.

The second notice was provided to 810 proponents, with five registering, and three making submissions.

Swayze did not bid the second time.

Mayor Mike Bradley, whose pay was suspended twice after Swayze ruled he had breached council’s code of conduct, believes Watson is a good fit.

“All I ever wanted from it was fairness and balance, and I would make the case that I didn’t think people were treated that way,” said Bradley. “It wasn’t just myself, but there were other cases that came along where I didn’t feel there was fairness and balance to it. This new individual has municipal background as a councillor, so I think it’s a good decision.”

As of March 1, every municipality in the province is required by law to have an integrity commissioner.

While Bradley is in favour of that, he’s concerned there’s a lack of due process, no avenue for appeal, and the opportunity for codes of conduct to be used for political purposes.

Councillor Terry Burrell said he thinks it’s wise to start with a clean slate.

“It probably isn’t a bad idea to have a fresh start,” said Burrell. “It’s always the hope that we won’t need these services.”

Paul Watson also provides integrity commissioner services in Chatham-Kent.