Eye­ing op­tions in Car­bon­ear

Coun­cil must now de­cide how it will fill va­cancy fol­low­ing Sam Slade’s de­par­ture

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Ques­tions are be­ing asked by many res­i­dents through­out the Town of Car­bon­ear about what is go­ing to hap­pen with the town’s lead­er­ship now that Mayor Sam Slade has been elected MHA for the dis­trict of Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace.

On Nov. 5, when Slade took a leave of ab­sence with the town to fo­cus on the cam­paign, Deputy Mayor Ge­orge Butt Jr. as­sumed the po­si­tion of act­ing mayor.

Slade had planned to re­sign from coun­cil on Mon­day, Dec. 2, end­ing a 20-year ca­reer in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics. He would have been re­quired to step down once he was sworn in as MHA, said town ad­min­is­tra­tor Cyn­thia Davis.

What are the op­tions?

But what hap­pens to Car­bon­ear’s town coun­cil now? Who will be the next mayor? The coun­cil has three op­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act, and what route they take will de­pend on how a ma­jor­ity of elected mem­bers feel.

The first op­tion could see Butt as­sume the mayor’s chair. In do­ing so, the town will have to call a by­elec­tion to fill the empty seat on coun­cil, and a new deputy mayor would be named.

Coun­cil could also de­cide to have a spe­cial elec­tion for mayor.

The third — and most un­known op­tion — gives coun­cil the power to vote through se­cret bal­lot, and then they can pick a cur­rent coun­cil­lor to re­place Slade. A by­elec­tion would then be held to re­place the coun­cil­lor.

It is un­known what the coun­cil will choose, es­pe­cially just com­ing off a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion. All three

Ge­orge Butt

op­tions will re­quire that vot­ers in the town once again head to the polls for what will be a third elec­tion since late Septem­ber.

It is pos­si­ble that Slade de­par­ture could trig­ger a chain re­ac­tion in which more va­can­cies are cre­ated.

Butt con­firmed he will seek the mayor’s po­si­tion if there is a by­elec­tion, or he will ac­cept if coun­cil de­cides to have him as­sume the role.

If a by­elec­tion is called, any coun­cil­lor — in­clud­ing Butt — would have to re­sign their cur­rent seat to run for mayor.

In 2001, Butt took on the role of deputy mayor to the late Mayor Claude Gar­land.

Three years later, Gar­land took a heart at­tack while out moose hunt­ing. Af­ter his pass­ing, coun­cil de­cided to give Butt the role un­til the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion the fol­low­ing year.

But with four years re­main­ing in this term, and a com­pletely dif­fer­ent group in the coun­cil cham­ber, the out­come is any­one’s guess.

The Com­pass at­tempted to con­tact all mem­bers of coun­cil last week to de­ter­mine who the sit­u­a­tion may play out, but none were will­ing to tip their hand at this point.

Coun. Ed Goff said he would not be seek­ing the mayor’s chair if a by­elec­tion is called, and would not con­firm which op­tion he would sup­port.

He said coun­cil will de­cide col­lec­tively.

Coun. Ray Noel was also evasive, but Coun. Frank Butt was more can­did in his re­sponse.

“Deputy Mayor Butt has shown some in­ter­est in the po­si­tion of mayor and I feel he would make a good mayor based on his roll as act­ing mayor,” he wrote in an email to The Com­pass. “I feel you have to work your way up the lad­der be­fore run­ning for a po­si­tion such as mayor.”

Coun. Butt has also con­firmed he has as­pi­ra­tions to be mayor some­day, and will con­sider throw­ing his hat in the ring in the 2017 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

At­tempts to con­tact coun­cil­lors David Kennedy and Bill Bow­man were un­suc­cess­ful.

Re­turn of a fa­mil­iar face

If a by­elec­tion is called, some res- idents have al­ready said they would like to see a fe­male face take a seat in the cham­ber, while oth­ers would like to have a pre­vi­ous coun­cil­lor with ex­pe­ri­ence.

For­mer deputy mayor Ches Ash, who lost the mayoral race against Slade in Septem­ber, has con­firmed he will be plac­ing his name on a bal­lot when a by­elec­tion is called, but would not con­firm if he will seek the mayor’s chair again, or if he will try to get back on coun­cil.

“If and when the op­por­tu­nity arises I am plan­ning on putting my name for­ward as a can­di­date,” Ash stated in an email to The Com­pass.

Davis told The Com­pass a by­elec­tion must be called within three months of a va­cancy.

Whichever choice is made, the res­i­dents of the Town of Car­bon­ear will be head­ing back to the polls, whether it’s to vote for a new mayor, new coun­cil­lor or both.

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