With Richmond Hill's Mayor Dave Barrow recently announcing his retirement Council members will have to fill his vacant seat. A staff report "Options to fill the Vacancy in the Office of Mayor" was posted as part of the September 22nd Council Meeting agenda.
Here's the gist:
It comes down to a by-election or filling by appointment. If it's an appointment and it's tie vote the new Mayor gets appointed by the Clerk who draws a name from a hat.
A tied council vote has been a common occurrence since Mayor Barrow left on his medical leave last February so determining who becomes mayor by drawing a name from a hat is a distinct possibility unless a by-election is held so that we the people of Richmond Hill can choose our next mayor not the luck of a draw.
Consider writing the clerk and your councillor and let them know your thoughts whether there should be a by-election or appointment process to fill the mayor's seat.
Public Comments: The public may submit written correspondence regarding agenda matters by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Written correspondence must be submitted by 12 p.m. Tuesday September 21st. Find Councillor email addresses here.
Below is a synopsis of the staff report:
Option 1 –By-election
Voting Day would occur between Monday December 6, 2021 and Wednesday January 5, 2022
Estimated that the costs of conducting the By-election will be between $575,000 and $625,000
Clerk recommends use of internet voting as an additional voting method
Option 2 – Appoint a current Member of Council to fill the Vacancy
The Clerk would post notice of the vacancy for a four week period.
Interested Members of Council would be required to submit the application form
Each candidate would be permitted to address Council for ten minute
The Mayor would be chosen on a majority vote of Members of Council
If only two candidates remain and the vote is tied, the Mayor would be selected by the Clerk by lot (e.g. drawing the name of the winning person from a hat).
Option 3 – Appoint a qualified individual to fill the vacancy
Any person or council member can apply
Same process as above
Staff note that the Procedures includes a rule that is contrary to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Procedures states that Individuals seeking appointment to the position of Mayor and/or Regional and Local Councillor who are also current members of Council (nominees) shall declare a pecuniary interest.
This is contrary to the Section 4(g) of MCIA which states:
4. Sections 5 and 5.2 do not apply to a pecuniary interest in any matter that a member may have,
(g) by reason of the member being eligible for election or appointment to fill a vacancy, office or position in the council or local board when the council or local board is empowered or required by any general or
special Act to fill such vacancy, office or position;
The expectation is that the Act will override the Procedures current members of council running for Mayor will not have to declare a pecuniary interest while run for the vacant seat .
Additional Council Vacancies may occur As a result of any By-election or appointment it is possible that up to two additional Council vacancies could occur. If, for example, a current Regional or Local Councillor becomes Mayor by election or appointment then their current seat would become vacant. If a Ward Councillor is subsequently elected or appointed to fill the vacancy in the Office of Regional and Local Councillor, their ward seat would then become vacant. As part of its deliberations, Council should consider the impacts of potential additional vacancies on the operations of Council as well as their impact on the 2022 Municipal Elections. Regional Representation during Vacancy Section 267(2) of the Act states that: “If the offices of a person who is a member of council of both a local municipality and its upper-tier municipality become vacant and the vacancies will not be filled for a period exceeding one month, the local council may appoint one of its members as an alternate member of the upper-tier council until the vacancies are filled permanently.”
Council can choose to appoint a current Ward Councillor as an alternate Member of Regional Council until such time as the vacancy in the Office of the Mayor is permanently filled.
Councillor Chan’s appointment expired as a result of Mayor Barrow’s resignation.
Council’s appointment of Ward 1 Councillor Beros as Regional Alternate under Section 268(1) of the Act is different than an appointment under Section 267(2) of the Act. A Regional Alternate appointed under Section 268 of the Act is only permitted to attend Regional Council meetings when a member is not able to attend a particular meeting (i.e. only occasionally).
An Alternate Regional Councillor appointed under Section 267(2) assumes all the responsibilities and is permitted to attend all Committee meetings as well as Council meetings until the vacancy is filled.