Process begins to fill the Council vacancy after Southampton Ward Councillor resigns

With the resignation of Southampton Ward Councillor John Rich, there is now a vacancy on Saugeen Shores Town Council effective as of September 7th that must be filled within 60 days.

Council has two choices to fill the vacancy – through a by-election or by appointment.  With costs, time and resources associated with a by-election, Town Clerk Linda White said that staff recommends the ‘appointment option’ to fill the seat but, if Council selects a by-election, it must be

White said that there were three choices.  “There are two options through the appointment method. Council can choose a candidate from the 2018 election roster or by appointing an eligible elector through an accountable and transparent process.”  Although Rich represented Southampton Ward, if the 2018 election option were used, it could include candidates from all three wards at Council’s discretion.

She pointed out that if a by-election is held, the Municipal Elections Act requires that it be conducted as much as possible as a regular election. “In this instance, it would mean using internet and telephone voting only for Southampton ward electors.  Again, due to time, cost and resources, it is staff’s recommendation to use the appointment option two through an open and transparent process.”

White added that “The definition of an eligible elector is any person who is at least 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen, a resident of Saugeen Shores, or owner or tenant of land in Saugeen Shores or the spouse of such owner or tenant, and not otherwise prohibited from voting under the Municipal Elections Act.”

The process would involve advertising for interested eligible electors to submit an application that includes a Declaration of Office and a personal statement including the person’s background and relevant qualifications.  White would ensure that the person is an eligible elector and Council would then hold a Special Appointment Meeting.  During the Meeting, Council would hear a short presentation from each candidate and then would vote openly to appointment the new member.

Grace said that although the option of by-election is the most democratic “… it would also be unreasonably expensive so option two would be the second most democratic option that I will support.”

Vice-Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt also supports option two.  “In the past, by appointment has been used.  I question however, the reason for voting openly verbally or visually through raising a hand and not by secret ballot.”

White explained that it was legislated under the Municipal Act that voting be done in-person and verbally.

If Council chooses the appointment option to fill the vacancy, White offered two dates October 19th or 26th for Council’s decision on an Appointment meeting.

Once voting is completed and a successful candidate chosen, a by-law would immediately be enacted and the candidate would take the Oath of Office and fill the vacancy.