Judge to review sanctions imposed against 3 Rocky View County councillors

Three councillors from Rocky View County are hoping that a judge will quash sanctions levied against them by fellow council members.Couns. Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel and Samanntha Wright were sanctioned by Rocky View County council in June 2019 for allegedly breaching the code of conduct.According to the county, the three councillors had provided confidential information to their personal lawyer and wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper that council felt was disrespectful to other members.The letter in question, published in the May 7 edition of the Rocky View Weekly, questioned the process that led to the hiring of chief administrative officer (CAO) Al Hoggan, calling it an "unprecedented hijacking."As a result of the sanctions, the trio had a number of penalties imposed.The councillors have had their pay reduced by 30 per cent, have been booted off all boards and committees, and are no longer allowed to speak privately with the county's CAO."We're not able to do our jobs properly to represent our ratepayers," Hanson said. "They elected us to work for them and we're at a serious disadvantage."It's been a tough eight months. Very stressful, hard on our families, as well as not being able to represent properly."Now, a judge at Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench must decide whether or not those sanctions will stand. He's expected to issue a decision sometime around the end of February."We really don't believe anything they did was worthy of being sanctioned," said Janet Ballantyne, a member of the resident group called Rocky View Forward. "Even if it was, the punishment that has been imposed on them is completely and thoroughly beyond reasonableness."In court on Wednesday, lawyers for the county said the judge should decline to interfere with council's decision.But lawyers for the sanctioned councillors said the move went too far, and prevent the trio from being able to properly represent their constituents.Calls for resignationThe court date came just days after Rocky View County council sought to disqualify Wright for allegedly not paying her property taxes.Reeve Greg Boehlke said Wright had refused to pay her tax bill for two years."Here is somebody who makes decisions on your taxes and my taxes who hasn't paid her own," Boehlke said. "To let something lie for two-plus years, and not try for resolution, just to ignore it. That unfortunately, to me, states this is a trust issue."Council also asked Wright to step down earlier this month, when she was asked to resign after voting on a property matter located next to property she owns.Wright did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

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