Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne comments on CAO’s abrupt resignation

Cheryl Martens left the job four days into new council term

Princeton’s CAO Cheryl Martens resigned her position Friday over the noon hour. It was effective immediately.

Her decision came just four days after she swore in a new mayor and council, at a ceremony last Monday night.

By 12:30 p.m. Martens had cleaned out her office and left municipal hall.

In a brief interview with The Spotlight she said she did not want to share too many details of the events leading up to her resignation.

She cited an email exchange, a subsequent meeting with the mayor, and said: “it was apparent that it’s not going to work.”

In an interview Monday Mayor Spencer Coyne said he does not know what prompted Martens’ sudden departure.

“I don’t know how to answer that. I guess she didn’t want to be here,” said Coyne.

“We did have a meeting Friday morning before I left town, but she didn’t tell me then that she was going to leave.”

During that meeting Coyne said he asked Martens for a copy of her employment contract, along with other documents.

“So we have not seen the contract yet. That was one of the documents I was asking for…She offered it up [last] Monday morning so we did discuss her giving it to me.”

Coyne received Martens’ resignation email after exiting an out-of-town meeting.

“It was all a surprise to me.”

When asked if the news came as a disappointment he replied: “You could say that.”

Deputy CAO Lyle Thomas has assumed Martens’ duties “until further notice,” said Coyne.

“This isn’t like the Town of Princeton suddenly coming to a grinding halt. We have people in place to do the job…We are confident that Lyle is more than capable of filling in,” said Coyne. “We have 100 per cent confidence in our staff.”

The mayor said it’s too early to be able to say when and how the municipality will go about finding a permanent replacement.

“We are just right now trying to get our ducks in a row,” he said. “[The town is] a rather large operation and we need a manager so I don’t see not having a CAO as an option, or an administrator or whatever you want to call them.”

Martens was hired in January, to replace Rick Zerr who resigned in December 2017.

She has 21 years experience in municipal government administration, and was selected from 38 candidates.

On October 20 there was a wholesale overturn of elected leadership, with the mayor and all four councillors being replaced in the municipal election.

Former councillor Doug Pateman expressed deep disappointment and even anger over Friday’s events.

“This is the best team we’ve had here in 13 years, according to senior management,” said Pateman.

Martens praised other city hall managers. “I wish the town the best and I’ve done the best I can.”

Related: Princeton election turns nasty

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