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Cambridge council set to examine options for vacant Ward 1 seat

 File photo. (CTV Kitchener) File photo. (CTV Kitchener)
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Cambridge city council will be looking at the options available to fill the Ward 1 seat left vacant after Coun. Donna Reid died earlier this month.

On Tuesday, council will examine the two options to fill the seat – either through a byelection or through an appointment process.

On Aug. 13, the city announced Reid had died, and on Aug. 15 council made the declaration of vacancy of the Ward 1 councillor position, triggering the 60 day countdown for the municipality to choose an option to fill the seat.

According to the report by Cambridge City Clerk Danielle Manton, Ward 1 is made up of approximately 13,369 electors.

In the 2022 Municipal Election, Ward 1 had 3,158 voters cast ballots for the role of Ward 1 councillor. The election saw 2,076 votes cast via internet voting and 1,082 votes cast in person.

BYELECTION OPTION

If council chooses the byelection route, there are multiple options for methods of voting, including internet voting only, paper ballot with tabulator, internet voting and paper ballot with tabulator and paper ballot with a manual count.

Choosing to fill the vacancy through a byelection means that Ward 1 will be vacant for approximately three months from the date that council declared the vacancy.

The clerk is responsible for fixing the date of nomination day to be a day not less than 30 days and not more than 60 days after Council passes a bylaw to hold the byelection, the report reads.

The proposed timeline in the report indicated council would begin a nomination period on Sept. 5, with advance voting beginning Nov. 1.

The official results would occur on Nov. 14, and on Nov. 28 the new councillor would be sworn in.

BY APPOINTMENT OPTION

If city council choses to go with an appointment process, the city can appoint a Ward 1 candidate from the 2022 who received the most number of votes in the previous municipal election.

Data from the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) shows the 2022 municipal election for Ward 1 runner up was Helen Shwery with 1,062 votes.

Another option is to appoint an eligible elector without a formal selection process, meaning council may choose to fill the vacancy by appointing any qualified individual.

Lastly, council can appoint an eligible elector through an established formal selection process, which would permit interested, eligible persons to submit an application for appointment to council.

FINANCIAL COST

If council chooses to fill the vacancy by byelection, it is estimated that the costs of conducting the byelection will be between $20,000 and $50,000, the report reads.

This estimate is based on cost estimates the City Clerk has obtained and on the number of eligible electors in Ward 1.

Following the 2020 by-election for Ward 7, the 2022 Municipal Election and the resumption of the Catholic District School Board Election, the balance in the Election Reserve is currently $61,970, the report says.

If a byelection is selected by council, staff recommend funding the additional costs from the rate stabilization reserve fund which is intended to be used to offset extraordinary one-time pressures.

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