PORT HAWKESBURY: A tentative date has been set by Port Hawkesbury officials for a by-election to fill a vacant council seat.
The by-election comes as the result of former town councillor, Jeremy White moving outside of town limits, and in a special meeting on September 18, council declared his seat vacant and appointed a returning officer.
Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said according to the Municipal Government Act and also the Elections Act, once a councillor or any elected official becomes a non-resident, and their seat is vacated, there is a set time frame that they have to follow.
“There is a four-week window to call the special election, 30-days to allow for nominations to come forward, and then 30-days to allow for special elections for campaigning,” she said. “The candidates [could] be doing door-to-door, or if they wanted to host open houses, however they want to campaign, and tentatively we’re looking at Election Day to be Saturday December 15.”
Terry Doyle, the town’s chief administration officer, said the town will call the election during in a special meeting on October 15.
“There are two things under the act that you have to do; you have to officially call the election and you have to approve the method of determining the election list,” he said. “It’s very specific when advertisements go out, when advance polling occurs, when you finalize the electors list.”
Doyle said officials have been already working towards the upcoming municipal election, and the returning officer has been looking at the elector lists, venues for public stations, and reviewing the law.
“Staff appreciates the idea of having all polling stations in one location, the only area we can come up with, that would meet the requirements and that’s large enough would be the SAERC gymnasium,” he said. “We contacted the school, and they approved our use of the gym for that day so all activities can be hosted at that location.”
Chisholm-Beaton indicated there has been significant interest in the vacant position, with multiple people reaching out to her and different councillors, asking questions about the role of a councillor and how the town operates.
“I invite anybody who’s interested, or does have questions, to reach out, and I would invite potential candidates to please come and attend some council meetings,” she said. “To be able to see firsthand how the council meetings occur and the structure of the agenda – I think that’s the best indication of what to expect.”
Chisholm-Beaton highlighted how White always took the time to take all the information being presented to council, took time to digest it, and always had very thoughtful commentary on all of the issues or opportunities that made their way onto the council table.
“Certainly, I think some of the qualities that make up an excellent councillor is being able to digest all the information being presented, use all of your skill set to come up with an appropriate direction or offer some appropriate advice,” she said. “And just to have an open mind and to be optimistic and those are all things Jeremy had as traits.”