Dilkens uses strong mayor powers to remove two key city commissioners


Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has used strong mayor powers to remove two key members of the city's administration.

The City of Windsor is launching what's being called a strategic realignment of its organizational structure after announcing that the city's top engineer and top lawyer have been dismissed.

The City announced Wednesday that as part of the realignment, Chris Nepszy, Commissioner of Infrastructure Services, and Shelby Askin-Hager, Commissioner of Legal and Legislative Services, are no longer with the corporation.

As part of the strong mayor powers granted by the province under the Municipal Act, the mayor has the power to appoint and dismiss the chief administrative officer as well as various senior managers.

As a result of the realignment, Dana Paladino has been named Interim Commissioner of Corporate Services. She has been serving as acting CEO of the Windsor Public Library.

Mark Winterton is coming back to serve as Interim Commissioner of Infrastructure Services and City Engineer.

Windsor mayor, Drew Dilkens, says this was the best and right work structure to move the city forward. 

"Well I think just looking as we always do at the environment at City Hall, making sure that we're delivering on the expectations of the residents, and making sure that we're operating in an efficient and effective way. I think this fine tuning actually helps move us along, and get us to a better place."

Dilkens say the strong mayor legislation made a number of changes to the Municipal Act that governs municipalities in the way they operate.

"One of those changes is empowering the mayor with the responsibility to set the organizational structure for the municipality, and also to hire and dismiss people who are in management positions at the city. So this isn't just a choice to exercise a power, this is now a responsibility that is wrapped up in the mayor's job duties."

Dilkens says all members of city council were consulted on this decision.

"I consulted with members of administration for the last several months, and our city manager to make sure that we had some alignment on the work structure. Did it meet everyone's needs? Probably not. At the end of the day not everyone gets what they want, but I as a person who works at City Hall every day of every week, and every week of every month, and every month of every year, have a good line of sight on what's important, and make sure that we meet the needs and expectations of the residents."

Chief Administrative Officer Joe Mancina says they will begin the process of recruiting for the position of commissioner of infrastructure services.

"We'll undertake a thorough review to look at ensuring that candidates provide the necessary experience, necessary educational background and so forth, to be able to undertake that work," he says. "Certainly a transition plan through Mark to whoever that new incumbent may be."

Winterton, who spent 30 years with the city, retired from his post as city engineer in September 2021.

Nepszy previously served as the chief administrative officer for the Town of Essex before joining the City of Windsor to replace the retiring Winterton.

Mancina believes Winterton's experience will help as they approach budget time.

"Mark's experience obviously goes back for several, several years with that particular portfolio. Certainly the ability for him to transition in to get updated on a number of files that were actually previously in place when Mark was here, and continue to be in place at this point in time, would be things that he would be very easily and adapt to get caught up on very quickly."

The newly formed Corporate Leadership Team will consist of the following departments and commissioners:

Community Services - Raymond Mensour
Finance and City Treasurer - Janice Guthrie
Infrastructure Services and City Engineer - Mark Winterton (Interim)
Human and Health Services - Andrew Daher
Economic Development - Jelena Payne
Corporate Services - Dana Paladino (Interim)

-with files from AM800's Meagan Delaurier and AM800's Aaron Mahoney