Two by­elec­tions likely

The Compass - - OPINION - Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

“We don’t cur­rently have a va­cancy for coun­cil­lor,” she ex­plained. “We have a va­cancy for the po­si­tion of mayor. If we are hav­ing a sep­a­rate elec­tion for mayor — which was de­cided in the last meet­ing — we would have to ad­ver­tise for the nom­i­na­tion of po­si­tion of mayor. If no ex­ist­ing coun­cil­lor re­signs, there would be no coun­cil­lor by­elec­tion.

“If one of the ex­ist­ing coun­cil­lors de­cides to run, they must re­sign be­fore they are nom­i­nated. Whether that be one, two or six of you re­sign to run for mayor, we would have to ad­ver­tise a by­elec­tion for coun­cil­lor. But they can­not be done to­gether un­less the res­ig­na­tion comes in well in ad­vance in or­der to ad­ver­tise (nom­i­na­tions) to­gether.”

Coun­cil­lors who re­sign can run for coun­cil again if they lose the nod for mayor.

Not enough time

The nom­i­na­tion date for mayor has been con­firmed for Wed­nes­day, Jan. 22, ad­vanced polls will be con­ducted on Satur­day, Feb. 15 and the by­elec­tion date is set for Feb. 18.

A nom­i­na­tion date must be set be­tween 21 and 28 days be­fore an elec­tion, and ad­ver­tis­ing for nom­i­na­tions must be done 10 days in ad­vance, as per the Act. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity also only has 90 days to fill a va­cancy for coun­cil.

With such tight dead­lines, Somers con­firmed to The Com­pass af­ter the meet­ing that it would not be pos­si­ble to have the by­elec­tions con­cur­rently with the cho­sen nom­i­na­tion date un­less a coun­cil­lor re­signed prior to fil­ing the by­elec­tion pa­per­work with Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs.

Coun. Ed Goff men­tioned he would like to see one elec­tion to save tax­pay­ers money.

Coun. Frank Butt also ex­pressed con­cern to The Com­pass af­ter the meet­ing about the change in cost to con­duct a se­cond by­elec­tion.

“This now may cost the tax­pay­ers two by­elec­tions at the cost of $7,500 each,” he said.

The cost of two by­elec­tions is es­ti­mated to be be­tween $15,000 and $20,000.

Somers told The Com­pass later a re­quest was made to the depart­ment to have the by­elec­tions to­gether, but it was de­nied.

Mes­sages left for the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs were not re­turned in time for dead­line.

Mean­while, dur­ing the adop­tion of the reg­u­lar min­utes from the pre­vi­ous meet­ing, Coun. Bill Bow­man was quick to in­ter­ject with what he be­lieved to be a flaw with two mo­tions made on how a new mayor would be de­cided. One mo­tion was for the deputy mayor, Ge­orge Butt Jr., to be named mayor, which was de­feated by a vote of 3-2, while the other was for a may­oral by­elec­tion to take place. It earned a unan­i­mous 5-0 vote.

Since Ge­orge Butt Jr. has stated pub­licly he will seek the seat of mayor, it was be­lieved he was in con­flict of in­ter­est.

Bow­man re­quested clar­i­fi­ca­tion on whether or not the vote should be null and void since Butt did not vote.

At the pre­vi­ous meet­ing, it was un­known if he was in con­flict or not, so to “err on the side of cau­tion,” he ex­cused him­self. It was be­lieved re­mu­ner­a­tion given to the mayor is higher than the deputy mayor, so Butt could have voted for per­sonal gain.

Somers con­firmed re­mu­ner­a­tion was not grounds for con­flict of in­ter­est, as is noted in the Act un­der in­ter­pre­ta­tion, sec­tion two.

“In this Act, ‘mon­e­tary in­ter­est’ means an in­ter­est or ben­e­fit af­fect­ing po­ten­tially af­fect­ing a per­son’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion or worth, his or her as­sets or as­set value, but does not in­clude re­mu­ner­a­tion or a ben­e­fit to which a coun­cil­lor is en­ti­tled un­der this Act.”

Somers did speak with Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs last week on the sit­u­a­tion.

“They in­di­cated if coun­cil wanted to re­visit the sit­u­a­tion, that was their choice, but from their point-of-view they weren’t go­ing to pur­sue it any fur­ther,” she said.

Bow­man added he was “just try­ing to be fair to Deputy Mayor Butt,” and al­low him to vote.

Goff, Coun. David Kennedy and Coun. Ray Noel, who voted against the mo­tion last week for Butt to as­sume the mayor’s chair for the re­main­der of the term, would not re­visit the is­sue, lead­ing to fi­nal­iza­tion of the passed mo­tion that a by­elec­tion for mayor will pro­ceed.

or Bill Bow­man

Pho­tos by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Ed Goff

Frank Butt

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