Mayor's communications specialist resigns: job is posted - pay being offered is substantial

By Pepper Parr

July 6th, 2024



Using X – known as Twitter, Marianne Meed Ward announced that her communications advisor is moving on,

Meed Ward said: “It is with mixed emotions that I announce John Bkila, Specialist, Media & Digital Communications, will be leaving the Mayor’s Office team to pursue a new opportunity. His last day in our office will be Thursday, July 11.

Recruitment has begun and is open for applications here:

John Bkila, Specialist, Media & Digital Communications,

John has been with me since the beginning of my tenure as Mayor, and in that time has significantly grown the reach and impact of the Mayor’s Office communications and engagement with residents. The information he has provided with the monthly newsletter and daily social updates, and other tools, has engaged residents in the day to day activities and decisions we make with their input and on their behalf.

John Bkila at a public event that did not include the Mayor; are there tea leaves to be read.

Residents have frequently commented to me how valuable they have found this information.

John also guided our communications throughout the COVID pandemic, working tirelessly whenever called upon to ensure our community members had the information they needed to stay safe and healthy.

We will miss John, but wish him well on this new step in his career!

Please join me in thanking John for his service to Burlington, and wishing him well.

Bkila was a staff reporter with the Burlington Post when he was poached by the Mayor to direct her social media campaigns.

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9 comments to Mayor’s communications specialist resigns: job is posted – pay being offered is substantial

  • Phil

    Please help me understand – is position solely for the Mayor’s benefit or did he provide communication guidance for all of COB.
    Since when can we afford a the “benefit” for the Mayor only ??

    Editor’s note: The Mayor has a budget for staff. The last two Mayors have hired someone to handle communications. Both Meed Ward and Goldring hired former Burlington Post reporters.

  • Millicent Corrigan

    John deserves an award for lasting as long as he did under our duplicitous mayor. Maybe he should consider a run for council. Good luck to him wherever he lands.

  • Caren

    This is ridiculous and should not be billed to Burlington Tax Payers. As far as I know, no other Mayor in Ontario has a full time employee with benefits and a pension, to oversee their personal Social Media Accounts at the Tax Payers expense to post her photo ops and social activities.
    At a posted Salary of $90,000 to $112,000 + Benefits and Pension for her own personal gratification seems very distorted and unfair to continue paying a salaried employee as a Staff member at COB to do this job.
    This position should be immediately eliminated now and not to be continued in any way, shape or form.
    This is what local newspapers are for.

  • Lynn Crosby

    It must have become busy deleting replies on social media.

  • Graham

    Did he report directly to the mayor or the CAO?

    • Blair Smith

      Directly to the Mayor – always. In November 2018, still with the deep glow of victory, Meed Ward was soliciting advice on how to form her administration. It was a given that Ridge would be gone quickly and it was recommended that, pending the appointment of a new City Manager, she should bring someone in pro tem to provide needed experience and stability. This she rejected and eventually brought in Commisso as interim then permanent City Manager. It was also recommended that she hire a Chief of Staff from amongst the rising stars of the municipal bureaucracies; someone who had proven themselves, could deal well with staff and would provide instant credibility to the Meed Ward administration. Instead, she brought in Victoria Hughes Samedi, a communications advisor from her Campaign, as Chief of Staff and John Bikila, another journalist/communications person, to handle her social media accounts. Neither had any experience in municipal government. The third person in her Office, and the only one with knowledge of the organization, was Georgie Gartside, her temporary administrative clerk/assistant. In my opinion, the manner in which Meed Ward decided to staff the Mayor’s Office provided a key to the nature of her administration; form over substance, messaging over policy and a bewildering unwillingness to understand that governing a City was much different than running a Ward Office or conducting a campaign. She has never changed.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. In Mayor Meed Wards mind the constant barrage of photo ops, ribbon cuttings etc is valuable information. Others such as Eric Stern in his article on our tax bill and budget communication and perhaps Councillor Kearns, believe that critical information that affects taxpayer pockets books is mumbo jumbo. So which is it? Valuable info, self promoting social media noise, mumbo jumbo and should this role be replaced?

    • Lynn

      I’ll go with self-promoting social media noise and say no the role shouldn’t be replaced. Laughable that the mayor claims it involved “communications and engagement with residents.” The communications leave a lot to be desired (may I present Eric Stern’s most recent article on the tax numbers as Exhibit A of many exhibits) and engagement is a two way street: what comes out to us isn’t engagement.

  • Daintry Klein

    I wish John all the best. He has done an amazing job!

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