City council granted his request for unpaid leave at a special meeting
Brian Bigger waited outside Thursday's closed-door meeting along with reporters and Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis, who had declared a conflict in the matter because he's also running for mayor. Dupuis chatted amiably with Bigger as everyone waited for councillors to emerge from the meeting.
“I need to hold off on (making) platform statements until I file nomination papers,” Bigger said. “I'd like to keep a separation (with my role) as auditor general. I think that's appropriate in this case.
“But I will be letting you know when I plan to file my nomination papers.”
But in broad terms, Bigger said he's a passionate about the city he grew up in and where he has roots.
“I really love the city of Sudbury,” he said. “I was born in Sudbury, was educated in Sudbury, and I played sports in Sudbury. And my family's here.
“I believe I can bring the knowledge and experience that people have recognized to the mayor's office.”
While the municipal experts contacted by Northern Life said that Bigger had the right to the unpaid leave and to run for mayor, some expressed concerns about what would happen if he loses. After having campaigned against whomever wins the October vote, some wondered how he could work with the new mayor and not be politicized.
When asked about that issue Thursday, Bigger said it's something that would be addressed after Oct. 27.
“I believe that decision would be up to the new council,” he said, adding “You will see how I carry myself throughout the election.”
While he's gone, senior auditor Vasu Balakrishnan will continue working on the audit work plan, Bigger said. And with him on unpaid leave, Balakrishnan may be able to bring in temporary help.
“There is some additional resources now in the budget for him to hire someone to continue with that plan,” Bigger said.
Once he files nomination papers, the auditor will be the eighth person in the race to replace Marianne Matichuk, who announced in June she wouldn't be running for re-election. Bigger joins Dupuis, former mayor John Rodriguez and businessman Dan Melanson as the highest-profile candidates in the race.
And the field could still grow, with the Sept. 12 deadline to register to run still weeks away.