Ex-city clerk named A’burg CAO after predecessor’s sudden departure


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Amherstburg has named its second chief administrative officer in less than five months, approving the appointment of former Windsor city clerk Valerie Critchley on the heels of the sudden departure of Peter Simmons.

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Mayor Aldo DiCarlo confirmed Monday that Simmons is no longer employed by the town but wouldn’t reveal any other details.

“He’s no longer with the town and we’ll move on,” DiCarlo said.

Simmons was hired just in March to replace former CAO John Miceli, who was walked out of the town’s offices along with two other senior administrators in August 2021. Miceli had been chief administrator for seven years.

Simmons was chief of corporate services for the City of Brampton over a period when the administration made headlines — first for a purported $1.25-million “slush fund” used for raises for city staff that prompted a police investigation, and then for a dramatic reorganization that saw 25 managers, including Simmons, let go in 2016.

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Police cleared Brampton city staff of any wrongdoing.

Simmons took over the permanent CAO position in Amherstburg in March, after three people—legal counsel Susan Hirota, director of engineering and public works Antoinetta Giofu and retired Tecumseh CAO Tony Haddad—temporarily filled the position.

Amherstburg's former chief administrative officer Peter Simmons is shown in a photo handout from the town at the time of his hiring in the spring.
Amherstburg’s former chief administrative officer Peter Simmons is shown in a photo handout from the town at the time of his hiring in the spring. Photo by Photo courtesy of Town of Amherstburg /Windsor Star

Asked if residents should be concerned about the rapid turnover, DiCarlo said two of the acting CAOs were only meant to be interim positions and the third — Hirota — was “poached” by Kingsville.

“The good news is… we don’t have 12 vacancies right now like we did nearing the end of last year,” he said. “So, although it looks like we’ve got some crazy… things happening again, it’s not.”

Critchley, a lawyer and long-time city clerk, was terminated in June 2021 by the then-newly hired Windsor CAO Jason Reynar, who launched a re-organization of city departments.

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She was hired shortly afterward in Amherstburg as director of legislative services/clerk.

“She was clearly in line to be a CAO one day and they just cut her loose,” DiCarlo said. “But at the time of Miceli’s departure from her, Critchley had n’t been with the town very long.

“When you have an abrupt departure of two or three senior administrators, what do you do? Where do you go from there?

DiCarlo said he’s confident Critchley, who will be the only female municipal chief administrative officer in the region, is capable of doing the job.

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“You look at the timeline from when Valerie started to now, and sure I’m going to say that I’m very comfortable with Valerie’s extensive experience before she got to Amherstburg,” he said. “And our experience of her with her at the town.

“I think Valerie deserves it. And as the mayor of the Town of Amherstburg, I’m very proud to say that as luck would have it, she will be the only female CAO in the region. ”

The chief administrative officer’s salary varies according to a number of factors, including experience, and DiCarlo said council will have to determine her rate of pay.

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Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo fires a cannon on May 21, 2022, during a visit from Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee.
Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo fires a cannon on May 21, 2022, during a visit from Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star

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