Former City of Parksville chief administrative officer Debbie Comis said although no specific reasons were given as to why she was let go from her position, she assumes it was a political decision based on council’s belief that she was somehow “responsible for the current status of the supportive housing project” at 222 Corfield.
The city announced Comis’s departure three weeks ago in a press release but did not give further context for her leaving.
“Parksville city council made a decision, which they are entitled to do, that I was not the person they wanted as CAO for the city,” Comis said. “As CAO and council’s only employee, it is not uncommon when a complete change of council takes place for the CAO to be terminated without cause so that a council has the opportunity to put in place a person who they believe is better-suited to carry out their vision for the city. I believe this is what happened in this case.”
Comis began her position as CAO with the City of Parksville on Jan. 1, 2016 after the then-council unanimously approved the appointment.
“I enjoyed my time working for the City of Parksville and its respective councils. I believe all employees of the city do exemplary work, are dedicated, committed and creative people whom the city is fortunate to have working on its behalf,” Comis said. “I wish council, its employees and the citizens of Parksville a prosperous and successful future as they work together to meet the challenges and opportunities of a growing city.”
Parksville mayor Ed Mayne said council has agreed not to speak on the specifics of Comis’s departure.
He said what he and council look for in a new CAO is someone who will “move with us.”
“This council is moving at a very quick speed in a lot of areas and we want somebody that’s going to keep up with us,” Mayne said. “We want somebody that knows what all the rules are, what we can and cannot do. We need somebody that’s going to work very closely with council, that’s the important part.”
Council appointed the city’s director of administrative services, Keeva Kehler, as the city’s acting CAO at a special meeting on Jan. 21. Mayne said council has a 12-month agreement with Kehler to operate as CAO.