London, Ontario Mayor Matt Brown is taking a temporary leave of absence after being caught having an affair with Deputy Mayor Maureen Cassidy. During a council meeting Tuesday night, Cassidy tearfully resigned as deputy citing “personal reasons.”
Later, however, Cassidy told reporters her resignation was motivated by an impromptu and short-lived sexual affair with Brown.
“Over time, we developed a very close and highly productive working relationship. Unfortunately, the relationship between the Mayor and me, for a brief period of time, crossed a professional boundary. This is something which I regret immensely.”
Standing next to other council members, the former deputy mayor refused to answer questions but did hint a possible return to city hall. She also apologized to fellow colleagues for the commotion and interruption the affair caused.
— AM980 London News (@AM980News) June 15, 2016
The announcement only confirmed rumors that had been circulating for months about an affair between the two. Married with two children, Brown admitted to the infidelity in an AM980 London News interview.
“Over the past many months, during a period of intense workload, I developed a close working relationship and ultimately an inappropriate personal relationship with Deputy Mayor Maureen Cassidy, for a brief period of time. This was a grave error in judgement on my part. The relationship ended some time ago. I am deeply sorry for the pain that this has caused — for my wife, my family and everyone involved.”
Brown did not mention when he may return to the mayor position, only saying he will come back when the time is right. Municipal lawmakers are allowed to take up to three months leave before their position is deemed vacant.
While emotionally upset about the affair, Andrea Brown, the mayor’s wife, is willing to repair the marital damage with help from counseling and their church. Mayor Brown said working out “private issues” with his wife and the family’s healing is most important to him during this difficult time.
During Brown’s time away, Paul Hubert, London’s other deputy mayor, will be in charge. The London mayor will be meeting with colleagues, including the newly hired integrity commissioner, Gregory Stewart, later this week to answer questions about the affair.
— Metro Toronto (@metrotoronto) June 15, 2016
Elected in October 2014, Brown promised transparency and a restoration of integrity to the office after the previous mayor’s disgraceful term. Joe Fontana was forced out in June 2014 after being convicted of a scheme to defraud taxpayers. Joni Baechler was appointed Fontana’s successor but chose not to run for the position in the election.
Scandals with the mayor’s office are nothing new in Canadian politics. Fontana’s predecessor, Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, was publicly humiliated after her husband caused a car accident while driving drunk and tried to leave the scene.
Before her, Mayor Dianne Haskett came under fire for declining to issue a civic gay pride proclamation in the 1990s. After a hearing, the Ontario Human Rights Commission fined her and the city for discrimination.
Many close to the mayor do not think the relationship with Cassidy adversely affected his decisions related to the city. Council member Josh Morgan said there is no indication Brown’s “personal judgment” interfered with his “professional judgment” while mayor.
Brown, 42, was a teacher before taking a city council position in 2010.
Taking a seat on the city council representing Ward 5, 49-year-old Cassidy is a married mother to three children and breast cancer survivor. She won the district with overwhelming support in 2014, taking over the seat previously held by Baechler.
Despite the sex scandal with Deputy Mayor Maureen Cassidy, London Mayor Matt Brown said it is “entirely possible” the two will work together again on the city council. Undoubtedly, Brown will receive intense criticism from those who supported his election campaign when he eventually returns.
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