Judge’s ruling reinstates Sandy Shantz as mayor of Woolwich
Published Thursday, July 23, 2015 1:16PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 23, 2015 6:48PM EDT
A judge’s ruling in Superior Court on Thursday has paved the way for Sandy Shantz to be reinstated as mayor of Woolwich.
The mayoralty was taken away from Shantz two weeks ago, after issues regarding her campaign expenses came to light.
Ontario’s election laws stipulate that municipal candidates must file audits of their campaign expenses, if they receive more than $10,000 in campaign contributions.
Shantz did not do that by the March 27 filing deadline.
At that point, her financial statements showed a donation total lower than $10,000.
After the deadline, Shantz filed new statements showing an additional $2,600 in donations – money she had contributed herself, and not spent on campaign expenses.
That $2,600 put her total donation level above the $10,000 limit, triggering the need for an audit.
Under provincial law, the penalty for any error in campaign expenses is removal from office – a penalty defence lawyer James Bennett termed “draconian and severe.”
The case eventually landed in the Kitchener courthouse, with Bennett asking Justice David Broad to “press the reset button,” allow Shantz to submit corrected documents and pave the way for her to return to the mayor’s chair.
After about three minutes of deliberation, Broad agreed – ruling that Shantz would not have to forfeit her office.
“(It’s) a relief to finally have it over with,” Shantz said outside court.
Other than lawyers and court officials, the only person to address the court was Alan Marshall, whose complaint about Shantz’s expenses resulted in her temporary removal from office.
Marshall mainly spoke about a second batch of financial statements Shantz filed about a month after her originals, and days before the March 27 deadline.
The existence of that second set of documents meant Shantz was already aware of issues with her financial statements, he said.
“I think I absolutely won in the court of public opinion,” he said after the verdict was announced.
“She’s made error after error after error.”
Shantz said she was grateful for the support of her constituents during the recent tumultuousness.
“They understand that it was an honest mistake,” she said.
“ I very much appreciate the words of encouragement that they’ve given me.”
Shantz now has until mid-September to file corrected financial documents.