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Steady Brook council to stick with mayor’s ballot

Steady Brook Coun. Matt Wells.
Steady Brook Coun. Matt Wells.

Steady Brook Coun. Matt Wells says the town has a responsibility to provide a full slate of options for potential mayors as it heads into the upcoming 2017 election cycle.

Wells recently raised the motion at town council to dissolve the town’s mayor’s ballot, in an effort he says, to bring a full slate of potential councillors into the fray for the upcoming election.

“It’s the responsibility of every municipal government to bring their due diligence in attracting a healthy slate of candidates, and the rejection of the mayor’s ballot would have been a step in the right direction” he said.

Wells said that not only is there currently no reason to believe Steady Brook will see a breadth of candidates emerge for the upcoming election, but that the problem of attracting enough potential councillors to run a proper election is a widespread problem throughout the province.

Wells provided numbers from MNL when he stated that only 45 per cent of all municipalities in the province had to have an election to determine its council members in 2013. Wells said that even with byelections, 25 per cent of municipalities within the province still didn’t have council positions filled.

However, Wells’ notion to reject the mayor’s ballot was declined at town council by a vote of 5-2. Deputy Mayor Candace Austin was the only other councillor to vote in favour of eliminating the mayor’s ballot.

If the vote had passed, the seven elected councillors would have then held an internal vote to determine which one of them would become mayor.

Mayor Peter Rowsell said the rejection of the mayor’s ballot would have been a regressive step for democracy in Steady Brook.

“If the town is in that much need of getting people to run for mayor, the town should consider giving its incorporation back to the province and going back to self-regulation” said Rowsell.

The mayor also doesn’t buy the idea of regionalization, stating that people in his own town have enough trouble getting along with each other. Forcing them to co-operate with people from other towns simply wouldn’t work, he said.

Coun. Wells said that only in a perfect world does the idea of maintaining a separate election for the mayor’s chair still make sense for Steady Brook. He doesn’t buy the mayor’s argument, rather, he sees the removal of the mayor’s ballot as a way to increase the democracy within his town, not decrease it.

He says it’s a step other towns in the province have had to make, and with the lack of variety for voters at the ballot box, it’s a step he believes the town council was wrong not to take.

Coun. Margaret Howlett seemed to sum up the minds of councillors voting against Wells’ idea when she said she simply thought the town should be able to vote for their mayor.

“That’s all there is to it” said Howlett.

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