Council set to discuss methods to fill mayoral vacancy

Members of township council will be presented with four options to fill the vacant mayoral seat at Monday’s (Feb. 22) meeting.

Three of the four would see the position filled by appointment – of a qualified applicant, member of council or candidate in the 2018 municipal election — with the other being a by-election.

The seat was formally declared vacant by council on Feb. 1 following the death of mayor Debbie Bath Hadden nearly two weeks prior.

“There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. It is important for the public to understand that there vould be a cost of $40,000 to $50,000 for a by-election but I agree that it is the most democratic process,” said Ward 5 Councillor Lynn Campbell.

“At this point, I am committed to a by-election to fill the seat. No one can ever fill the role of Debbie, however, I strongly believe that a by-election is the most fair, democratic and transparent way to fill the seat,” added Ward 1 Councillor Mike Jubb.

“The residents should decide who their mayor is – not council. Of course, there is a cost. Democracy does come at a price. I have also reached out to hundreds of constituents on social media, phone and email. The vast, overwhelmingly majority would like to see a by-election.”

A STAFF REPORT lays out a rough timeline for a potential by-election, with nominations opening on March 23 leading to a vote on June 18.

“A by-election is the most democratic option but it comes with a big price tag. Given the fact that the mayor will only be in the seat for less than 18 months by the end of the process – really a year and then the next election is in full swing – I’m just trying to weigh cost versus benefit,” said Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble.

While most of the chatter on social media has been in support of a by-election, Ward 4 Councillor Cria Pettingill noted that she has constituents in “both camps.”

“It would be good if we got the right person in that seat through either process…but if the majority (of residents) are asking for a by election we will probably go that route,” she said.

The meeting is set to get underway at 5 p.m.

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