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Update: Mayor's new chief of staff says he was never employed by Dario Zulich

Sudburian Hugh Kruzel has worked with NORCAT and CARP Sudbury, and will be replacing Melissa Zanette, but despite rumours to the contrary, he says he is not Dario Zulich's 'PR guy'
Hugh Kruzel.

Mayor Brian Bigger's incoming chief of staff was never employed by Dario Zulich and never supplied public relations services to the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED) proponent, Hugh Kruzel told today.

He said the only work he ever performed on behalf of Zulich or the Kingsway Entertainment District was to provide the voiceover for a KED video in 2017. You can view that video here.

"I do voiceovers for many projects, including PSAs and promos for Science North," Kruzel said. "In this case, I was asked to read for a video/ad ... so I did. I neither asked for, nor received any payment for doing it." broke the story this morning that Mayor Brian Bigger had settled on a new chief of staff to replace Melissa Zanette, who announced back in May that she would be moving on to pursue other opportunities. Zanette has been working with the mayor since his election. 

Zanette announced today that she is joining KPW Communications as a senior associate.

Kruzel is a familiar face in certain circles in Sudbury. His new role was officially announced after broke the story.

Kruzel is from Sudbury. He graduated with a degree in geography from Laurentian University in 1983. The mayor's office said he is also a graduate of Western University, the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University, as well as holding a project management certificate from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Most recently, Kruzel has been working at NORCAT as a community liaison. NORCAT, located out on Maley Drive, is a entrepreneur and tech innovator incubator in the Nickel City. He’s been with NORCAT since 2014.

Kruzel is also the long-time chair of the local CARP chapter in Sudbury, an advocacy group for older people.

He told he’s had a varied career, which includes time as a logistics officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, working with children with special needs and their families, and working in the public service for both the City of Nepean and the City of Ottawa.

He has also taught photography and English as a second language. In 2008, Kruzel unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Victoria. 

Kruzel is also a freelance writer, having bylines in Sudbury Living magazine, among others. Most recently, he was’s food writer.

He joked that his career is a bit like jambalaya — it has a bit of everything. But he said his work with NORCAT has been particularly meaningful.

“NORCAT has been a huge training ground for me,” Kruzel said.

He said Zanette herself reached out to him about possibly taking on the role in the mayor’s office.

He said his approach to being chief of staff for the mayor will be to provide “as balanced an attitude and awareness of things as possible” and consideration of all “the implications of any decision to be made.”

“Council and the mayor have a harder role than many people think and some people slam them so hard,” Kruzel said, and his goal is to provide Bigger with the best possible information.

He said the fact that he is from Sudbury means he has good knowledge of the city and its history, as well as extensive contacts in many groups and organizations in Sudbury and beyond from his time with NORCAT. 

As for when he begins his new role at Tom Davies Square, Kruzel said there will be a “phased-in approach” as Zanette transitions out of her role and he transitions in. It’s been reported Zanette will be moving on before the end of June.

Mayor Brian Bigger issued a statement about Kruzel's hiring after broke the story earlier today. 

“While I’m very sad to see Melissa Zanette depart my office, I’m thrilled to have Hugh Kruzel  join us,” Bigger said in a news release. “Hugh will be an amazing asset to the team, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him. Hugh’s work over the years has certainly prepared him for this role. Please join me in welcoming him to my office.” 



Mark Gentili

About the Author: Mark Gentili

Mark Gentili is the editor of
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