Sturgeon County council voted on Oct. 28 to hold a byelection for the position of Division 6 councillor Dec. 13.
Ronald Shaw won the Division 6 council election on Oct. 18, but resigned from council the day before he was to be sworn in as councillor. In his resignation letter to county commissioner Reegan McCullough, Shaw said he was resigning due to “personal reasons,” adding, “The timing was just not right.”
Councils have 120 days within which to hold a byelection after someone resigns from council, Sturgeon County returning officer Jesse Sopko told council. County administration recommended that Shaw’s seat be filled as soon as possible.
Sopko said the byelection would cost about $10,000, some of which would be offset from cash left over from the last election (which was cheaper than projected since three positions were acclaimed).
Anyone who was out of the division, working at a poll station, or unable to reach a polling station due to physical disability on election day can apply to vote by mail in this byelection. Applications should be made to Sopko between 8:30 a.m. Nov. 1 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 10, with all ballots due by Dec. 13 at 4:30 p.m.
Sopko said officials will also provide at-home voting assistance on request.
Any Canadian 18 years or older who lives in Division 6 on Dec. 13 can vote in the byelection. Sopko said in an email that he will set advance poll dates in the coming weeks.
Sopko said in council he is not yet sure if he will use electronic tabulators to count the votes for this byelection, as a hand count might be cheaper.
Mayor Alanna Hnatiw noted that this is the county’s second byelection in four years — the previous one was in 2019 after Division 2 representative Susan Evans resigned.
The nominees are …
The first declared candidate of this byelection is Jason Berry, who was Shaw’s opponent last election.
A 15-year resident of Division 6, Berry is a past president of the CNN Spurs minor hockey association and manager of a construction company. He was the second person to enter the 2021 county electoral race, and said he had done extensive research into being a county councillor.
Berry said Division 6 residents had told him to make roads his top priority, if elected. He also hopes to get more trails built in the region.
“I think I did all the heavy lifting already” campaign-wise, he said, and he hopes to visit all the homes he couldn’t reach during the last campaign.
Under the Local Authorities Election Act, anyone who can vote in the Division 6 byelection and is a resident of the division since last May 15 (i.e. six consecutive months prior to nomination day) can run in the Division 6 byelection unless they are the county’s auditor, an active Sturgeon County employee, in debt to the county for more than $50 in taxes or $500 in other debt, or have been convicted of election offences in Canada in the last 10 years.
Nominations for the byelection were open as of 8:30 a.m. Oct. 29 and will close at noon Nov. 15, Sopko said. If no nominations are received by then, provincial law requires Sopko to keep the nomination period open for up to six days, after which he will turn the matter over to Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.
Councillors Neal Comeau and Kristin Toms encouraged residents to call councillors if they have any questions on running for county council.
Division 6 residents should direct council-related concerns to Comeau and Coun. Dan Derouin prior to the byelection.