A nearly two-month long absence from city council has ended for Ward 5 Councillor Maureen Cassidy.
Cassidy sat in on Monday afternoon’s Civic Works Committee, the first of many committee and council meetings that will start to pick up for the fall agenda.
The former deputy mayor announced she would be taking a leave of absence on June 9th. Less than a week later, Londoners would come to learn that she had been having an affair with Mayor Matt Brown.
Cassidy’s 10-week, self imposed leave was rife with questions about whether she would be paid (she was not), whether she would pay taxpayers back for a conference she did not attend (she did), and most importantly, whether or not she would return.
— Tom Fraser (@thomfraser) August 22, 2016
She returned Monday afternoon, but did not speak with reporters following the meeting.
In a statement released this morning, Cassidy said, “I know that Londoners are eager to see this Council direct its attention to the very important matters facing this city. I’m excited to rejoin all of my Council colleagues so we may continue to work together on these issues. I’d like to thank my colleagues for their support during my absence and especially Councillors Park, Squire and Morgan for their help in handling inquiries from my constituents. I would also like to thank my constituents and the community at large for their encouragement and support.”
Reacting to the news of her return, Councillor Phil Squire called it unsurprising.
“I think there were probably signs, given the fact that she hadn’t resigned right away, that she was taking a leave and expected to come back,” he said on The Craig Needles Show. “I’m sort of glad that the guessing on this is over, and I’m ready to get back to work and get away from this little circus of a story and get back to the things that Londoners really want us to do.”
In an interview with the London Free Press, Cassidy said that she never wanted the affair to be made public.
Squire found that statement to be bizarre.
“It became public because of the mayor and deputy mayor. That’s a strange statement for me. Both of them made announcement publicly that the affair had happened. So that’s a very strange statement to say it should not have been made public. How could it not have- they were the ones that actually made it public.”
Speaking after Monday’s committee meeting, Councillor Jesse Helmer echoed a statement from Mayor Brown, saying he’s looking forward to everybody being back at the table.
“I think it’s been a problem to have both herself and also Councillor (Jared) Zaifman, who’s dealing with a concussion and has been away, and we want to have all 15 councillors and the mayor doing their job and at work.”
Helmer noted that there’s a “big difference” between Zaifman and Cassidy’s absence.
“Hers was self-imposed and his was an accident. One’s just a health issue and one is an unpaid leave. It’s different in pretty much every way.”
City council will meet for the first time in over a month next Tuesday.