Re­tool­ing the vote

Clarke’s Beach coun­cil does away with sep­a­rate bal­lot for mayor

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

In yet an­other sign of the po­lit­i­cal ran­cour in Clarke’s Beach, it’s now been de­cided that res­i­dents will no longer have the op­por­tu­nity to vote for mayor when mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are held next year.

The town coun­cil, on a mo­tion brought for­ward by Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey, voted 6-1 dur­ing a pub­lic meet­ing on Aug. 13 to do away with the sep­a­rate bal­lot for mayor.

As such, all can­di­dates for coun­cil will be on the one bal­lot, with vot­ers be­ing asked to vote for up to seven can­di­dates.

Those elected are then en­ti­tled to have a se­cret bal­lot to de­ter­mine who will serve as mayor and deputy mayor.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the mayor’s post is of­fered to the can­di­date who re­ceives the most votes, but there’s noth­ing in leg­is­la­tion which re­quires this.

Hussey jus­ti­fied his mo­tion by point­ing to the out­come of the 2009 mayor’s vote, in which in­cum­bent Mayor Betty Moore de­feated long­time coun­cil­lor Frank Evely Sr.

“This is my prob­lem with it. The town lost a good coun­cil­lor be­cause he ran for the mayor’s po­si­tion and was un­suc­cess­ful,” Hussey ex­plained.

In 2005, Moore was un­chal­lenged for the mayor’s post.

Sep­a­rate bal­lot com­mon

It’s a re­ver­sal of a sys­tem that has been in place in the town since the 2005 elec­tion. It’s also com­mon in most other larger mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince.

Moore be­came mayor af­ter polling the most votes of 14 can­di­dates in the 2001 elec­tion, and was of­fered the po­si­tion by coun­cil.

Though Hussey made no ref­er­ence to his on­go­ing feud with Mayor Moore dur­ing the de­bate, she said it’s clearly part of a strat­egy by the deputy mayor and oth­ers to loosen her grip on the mayor’s chair.

“There’s no doubt,” she said af­ter the meet­ing.

In fact, Hussey pre­vi­ously sup­ported the sep­a­rate bal­lot sys­tem.

Moore — the only fe­male on coun­cil — has been in­creas­ingly iso­lated by her col­leagues, and Hussey has stated on sev­eral oc­ca­sions at re­cent meet­ings that “the chair has no con­trol.”

In an in­ter­view with The Com­pass in July, Hussey stated the fol­low­ing: “I’m sick of Betty Moore ... She has done ev­ery­thing to try and cause a racket and fuss. Not one coun­cil­lor sup­ports her.”

Dur­ing dis­cus­sion on the mo­tion, sev­eral coun­cil­lors made ref­er­ence to the tradition of of­fer­ing the mayor’s post to the can­di­date with the most votes, though Coun. Roland An­drews stated: “It’s not cast in stone.”

Coun. Win­ston Vokey added: “Coun­cil will re­spect the wishes of the peo­ple.”

Moore was the only mem­ber of coun­cil to vote against the mo­tion, stat­ing: “I feel by hav­ing a sep­a­rate bal­lot the community picks the per­son they want.”

She added there are oth­ers who want to be mayor, but “I don’t see that hap­pen­ing on a sep­a­rate bal­lot.”

When asked later if she was con­fi­dent the cur­rent slate of coun­cil­lors would en­dorse her for mayor if she topped the polls next fall, Moore stated: “Def­i­nitely not.”

She added: “I have felt for quite a long time that the sit­ting mem­bers of coun­cil are not wish­ing me to continue be­ing the mayor. Now that they’ve made this de­ci­sion to not have a sep­a­rate bal­lot, the community will not choose.”

But she’s con­fi­dent in her chances of re-elec­tion to coun­cil, stat­ing dur­ing the de­bate: “I haven’t got a worry.”

Mean­while, Hussey was in­ter­viewed on the is­sue by The Com­pass last week, but later de­manded that his com­ments be re­tracted.

The Com­pass re­quest.

re­spected

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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