CAO resigns suddenly

·3 min read

The council of Strathroy-Caradoc is keeping tight-lipped about the resignation of the most important and powerful staff member in the municipality resigning effective March 10.

Fred Tranquilli held the position of chief administrative officer (CAO) since Nov. 6, 2019, first as acting CAO before his appointment to the job Dec. 12, 2019. The CAO is the top manager for all staff who work for Strathroy-Caradoc.

Tranquilli was working for the municipality for 17 months before that. He also was the clerk and director of legal and legislative services during a time when Strathroy-Caradoc has been in court to argue the details of the expired services agreement with Adelaide Metcalfe that provides water and sewer services to businesses on Centre Road on the northwest edge of Strathroy. That case is still before the courts.

How the resignation affects the case is unknown. Council scheduled a private meeting to appoint an interim CAO and appoint a recruitment committee including three members of council to start the process of hiring a new CAO at its March 20 meeting. A new clerk and director of legal and legislative services will not be appointed, and will be left up to the new CAO whenever they are hired.

When reached for comment, Tranquilli said he chose to leave, “for both personal and professional reasons.”

The municipality sent out a short statement March 9 on the resignation:

“The municipality regretfully announces the resignation of its chief administrative officer and clerk, Fred Tranquilli, effective March 10, 2023. Mr. Tranquilli has served the community for almost five years and we thank him for all of his positive contributions during that time.”

Strathroy-Caradoc has yet to finalize a budget. Mayor Colin Grantham said the resignation will not delay proceedings. He said budget meetings have been delayed because of renovations to the council chambers to update the audio-visual system.

The mayor, deputy mayor, and each council member were sent a list of 10 questions to their municipal emails about the resignation. They included if they new why the CAO resigned, when they found out about it, what the severance is, what they want in a new CAO, if any other staff have resigned, if pressure from voters played a role, how members felt about the resignation, and in reference to the media release’s mention of positive contributions, what they thought the positive contributions were.

Mayor Grantham said more information would be forthcoming.

“All correspondence on this matter will be addressed by the Office of the Mayor, his worship Colin Grantham,” was Deputy Mayor Mike McGuire’s response.

“I have no comment on any of these questions,” was Coun. John Brennan’s response.

No other councillors responded before print, having six days before this edition went to print.

Tranquilli described his time with the municipality, a time of growth and challenges:

“It has been a privilege leading the high performing team of public sector professionals and front line workers in Strathroy-Caradoc for the past five years.

“Two months after my appointment, the pandemic was declared. While leading the municipality's successful response to the pandemic, I facilitated the council adopting its first ever strategic plan. With the support of my team I was able to deliver on the long list of objectives of the council that appointed me. From new affordable housing, record breaking industrial land sales and building permits, a long-term financial plan, multi-year budgeting, a new Skilled Trades Centre and a series of master plans which will guide the allocation of scarce resources well into the future.

“I am grateful to the staff team which helped me deliver on the council mandate. It is time to hand off the reins to a new leader, with new energy, to help the council and the community continue to deliver on their potential. Prior to my departure I set out the path for the new council to update its strategic plan, and I am excited to see where the future takes Strathroy-Caradoc.”

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner