Appointment or by-election? That’s the question that is facing Brock Township councillors after they declared the mayoral seat vacant at a special meeting Monday (Feb. 1) following the recent death of Debbie Bath-Hadden.
Council has up to 60 days to make a decision on the method to fill the vacancy, with a staff report on the potential options expected to be on the agenda for the Feb. 22 meeting.
Ward 1 Councillor Mike Jubb questioned whether a special meeting should be called prior to that date.
“I’m concerned we’re leaving for three weeks,” he said.
The suggestion garnered no support amongst his colleagues or staff.
“This is not something we need to rush,” countered Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble.
“There’s no rush. Let’s do it right and make the right decision,” added Regional Councillor Ted Smith.
Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer referenced the controversy surrounding the 2010 mayoral race, which culminated with council appointing runner-up Terry Clayton.
“Some of us have gone through this process before,” he said.
Under the Municipal Act, a vacancy must be filled unless it occurs within 90 days before voting day of a regular election.
“When deciding whether to fill a vacancy through by-election or through appointment, council may wish to consider circumstances such as whether the vacancy is for the head of council or whether the individual holding the office will sit on both the lower-tier and upper-tier councils,” reads a Municipal Councillor’s Guide published by the Province.
“If council decides to appoint a person to a vacant council seat, the appointee must consent to the appointment and must be eligible to hold office. Council decides what process it will use to choose the person it appoints. If council decides to hold a by-election instead of appointing a person to fill a vacancy, council must pass a by-law to have a by-election.”
Until the seat is filled, Coun. Schummer will continue to serve as one of the Township’s two representatives on regional council.
“Coun. Schummer has been doing a great job representing the Township of Brock down at the Region,” Coun. Doble said.
“Until we decide what happens next, this is the right thing to do,” added Ward 4 Councillor Cria Pettingill.