Six candidates confirmed for city byelection
Six Merrittonians have confirmed they will run for council in the City of Merritt byelection scheduled for Sept. 15.
The time window for nominating candidates to fill former councillor Norm Brigden’s vacant seat began on July 31 and will close on Friday.
As of press time Wednesday, Kurt Christopherson, Jack Polmans and former councillor Nadia Clarke had officially filed their nomination papers at City Hall, though Noreen Cross, Harvey Keys and former mayor Bob Baird confirmed their intentions to run.
Both Polmans and Keys ran for council in the last general election and were defeated.
“I would encourage anyone that is interested in putting their name forth to do so,” said Chief Elections Officer Carole Fraser. “It’s a great duty and responsibility.”
Fraser confirmed that as many as eight nomination packages were picked up from City Hall.
Packages include a nomination form, to be signed by two qualified electors, a declaration form indicating the candidates’ eligibility to run, as well as a candidate financial disclosure form with a summary of election contributions and expenses, which needs to be filed 120 days after the election.
Mayor Susan Roline said she is hoping to see several names on the ballot representing a diverse mix of people. Since Brigden resigned, she has been encouraging younger people to consider running for council.
“There is a gap in the population and young people are not being recognized as they should be,” she said. “I encourage young people to really consider it because we do need that voice. If we had a younger representative on council, young people would tend to follow politics a bit more.”
However, Roline reminded those running for council to consider the time commitment required by elected officials. Besides regular city council meetings, councillors are required to attend committee of the whole meetings, sit on city committees and be generally involved in the community, she said.
“Because our mission is to do the business of the City, it’s not just done through regular council meetings,” said Roline.
The byelection is set for Sept. 15, with advance voting days scheduled for Sept. 5 and 12 and City staff are budgeting $15,000 to implement it.
Fraser said these projections are based on the cost of holding the general election in November 2011.
“Your costs are exactly the same. You need the same amount of advertising, the same number of ballots, except you’re only electing one position,” she said.
Fraser said the only difference is that the City won’t be able to recover a third of the costs from the school board as during a general election when residents elect school trustees as well.
Byelections typically have a lower voter turnout, said the mayor who is encouraging people to vote.
“Even if you think it’s only one councillor, one person does make a difference,” she said.