Council decides against byelection

Seat became open when Tim Anderson resigned

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There won’t be a byelection to replace District of Houston councillor Tim Anderson who resigned his seat as of Jan. 2 to leave the community for a new job in Castlegar.

Instead, council decided at its Jan. 4 meeting to keep the seat vacant until this October when all six council seats and the mayor’s seat come open in a general election scheduled for November.

Under provincial legislation, when there is a resignation during the calendar year of a general election, council has the option not to call a byelection.

In making its decision by way of a formal motion, council considered the ins and outs of a byelection as laid out in a memo from corporate services director Holly Brown.

She noted that having a byelection and then a general election in the same year pose a challenge for completing objectives set out by council given the turnover of senior staffers in 2021.

“Best practices recommend that chief elections officers begin election planning in January of a general election year,” Brown added. “A byelection will detract from staff’s ability to focus on thorough planning for the general election in the context of the changing environment of COVID-19.”

Brown also raised the spectre of voter fatigue from having two votes close together in indicating that only 27.9 per cent of eligible voters voted in the 2018 general election.

“This percentage could be negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which may interfere with campaigning efforts, engagement, and voting,” she wrote.

The pandemic might also effect candidate campaigning and the ability to hire election workers, Brown continued.

In looking at the 2018 general election costs, Brown told council that $6,627 was spent out of budget $8,114.

She recommended a budget of $10,000 each for a byelection and general election, making the potential expense being $20,000.

“Additionally, if council chose not to have a byelection, one less councillor would be receiving remuneration, which would result in a cost savings of approximately $8,500,” Brown continued.