Oro-Medonte votes 3-2 to appoint rather than elect
From left, Ward 1 Councillor Ian Veitch, Ward 5 Councillor Randy Greenlaw, Mayor Harry Hughes, Ward 3 Councillor Cathy Keane and Ward 4 Councillor Shawn Scott.
The electorate is weary, says Hughes
AWARE News Network
Citing fiscal responsibility, three of Oro-Medonte’s five members of council voted today against holding a byelection, deciding instead that they would make the decision on who should replace Scott Jermey as deputy mayor and Scott Macpherson as Ward 2 councillor.
Mayor Harry Hughes also suggested voter fatigue as a reason for not holding a by-election.
Noting that within the last two years, there have been provincial, municipal and federal elections, Hughes said that “the electorate is weary of having elections and we need to take that into account.”
He added: “Appointments are an integral part of democracy.”
In favour of appointment were Hughes, Ward 3 Councillor Cathy Keane and Ward 4 Councillor Shawn Scott. Arguing for a by-election were Ward 1 Councillor Ian Veitch and Ward 5 Councillor Randy Greenlaw.
Council decided that the nine candidates who were unsuccessful in their bid for election in 2018 will be asked whether they are interested in either vacant position and the results will be reported to a special council meeting December 18, where presumably a selection process will be decided. Current councillors will also be asked whether they wish to seek appointment to the deputy mayoral post.
See election results for names of unsuccessful candidates.
Veitch argued strongly in favour of a by-election, emphasizing that there’s been a loss of 30 per cent of council, with almost three years left of the four-year term.
Veitch said the $150,000 cost of a by-election is “a drop in the bucket” when compared to the “tens of millions of dollars” councillors manage on the taxpayers’ behalf.
He pointed out that the City of Barrie recently decided to hold a by-election to replace Ward 3 Councillor Doug Shipley, elected MP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte in the Oct. 21 federal election. The by-election is to take place February 24.
“We want to operate in an ethical, transparent and accessible fashion for our constituents,” Veitch said. A by-election is an important way to promote community engagement, he added.
Greenlaw also called for a by-election. “We were elected democratically and our replacements I believe should be elected democratically as well,” he said.
But Keane cited four municipalities, including Tay Township, in which appointments to council seats were made within the last year.
She said fewer than one per cent of voters sent her messages on the issue, and she objected to the fact that 15 of those messages “were identical, word-for-word verbatim.”
She said she was concerned that the people had not used their own words and had clearly not read the report from corporate services director Donna Hewitt, that wasn’t posted on the township website until Friday.
“I do value every email I get,” Keane said, however she considered the views expressed to be “statistically unrepresentative.”
Scott also highlighted receiving emails that used the same wording, pointing to “some sort of coordination amongst those individuals” well in advance of the Hewitt report and “prior to being fully informed.”
Scott said it appeared there were two groups of residents in favour of appointment and another two groups in favour of a by-election.
To access the full debate go to O-M council meeting December 11 2019 from 5:28 to 6:44