PORT MOODY (NEWS 1130) – Following hours of tense conversation, city council in Port Moody has voted for Mayor Rob Vagramov to go back on a leave of absence as he faces a charge of sexual assault.
But it’s not clear if he’ll actually step away.
An emotionally charged meeting Tuesday night saw councillors and residents discuss Vagramov’s role at City Hall, and turmoil his presence has caused after being charged earlier this year.
A motion put forward called for Vagramov to return to his leave of absence until the charge has been resolved and passed in a vote of 4-3, but Vagramov would not confirm if he would follow through and step away.
“I thank council for their input and I take all these comments, especially what we hear here at public input to heart, and into consideration,” he said.
Vagramov had been on a self-imposed leave from March to September. Upon his return as mayor, he said the charge had been reduced and that lawyers were working on a deal that would not involve a trial.
A few members of the public came out to support Vagramov, but most asked for him to step aside until the matter had been resolved.
An emotional Councillor Diana Dilworth aired her concerns, adding since Vagramov returned to council tensions have boiled over.
“Nothing has been regular since your return. Our last council meeting was fraught with angst and emotion. This theatre was filled with residents concerned, yelling, crying and shocked at what was unfolding,” she said. “Tonight has been more of the same. I truly believe with your return and your legal issues unresolved, we as a council are challenged with providing good governance.”
For others like Councilor Hunter Madsen, the timing of the motion just didn’t make sense.
“It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me now to bring in a whole new acting mayor and get that person up to speed. That would generate transitional chaos,” Madsen said. “So, I’m not recommending you do this, although I do wish this had started differently.”
Vagramov returned to office last month after taking a voluntary leave of absence in March when he was charged with sexual assault stemming from an alleged incident in Coquitlam in 2015.
He has since denied the allegation.
A separate clause discussed at the council table would have seen the council request Vagramov’s resignation in the case that he is not exonerated. However, that did not pass.