Candidates in short supply as election day draws near

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

As election day gets approaches, two of the bigger District municipalities only have two candidates each for their respective municipal councils and another hasn’t received any at all, with less than three weeks remaining in the nomination period.

Both the Town of Fort Frances and the Township of Emo have two nominations as the August 19 deadline approaches while the Town of Rainy River has no nominees as of this writing.

Gabrielle Lecuyer is the Municipal Clerk and Returning Officer for the Town of Fort Frances she says it’s quite strange for it to go this late with so few nominations.

“This is very unusual,” Lecuyer said. “I’ve never seen a municipal election go this late into the nomination period where we haven’t received the bulk of the nominations by this point.”

Lecuyer had expected that more nominations would have come in earlier in the summer before people might have left on holidays.

“It’s kind of surprising that a lot of the nominations weren’t in prior to July 1 to be honest,” she said.

The longer people wait to submit the required paperwork to inform the town of their intention to run for office, the less time there could be to correct any issues with the necessary forms.

“I am not recommending to people or candidates thinking of running, to file last minute,” Lecuyer said. “You never know if there will be errors or omissions within your submissions. Maybe your endorsements have issues. You don’t want to wait until 1:30 in the afternoon to come in and sign those nomination papers and then there’s a problem and I can’t certify them.”

For every municipality in the district, after 2:00 p.m. on Aug. 19 no further nominations will be received. By Aug. 22 before 4:00 p.m. the town clerk will certify or reject the nominations. After 4:00 p.m. any acclamations will be declared if there are not enough candidates to hold an election. This is all in accordance with the municipal elections legislation for the province of Ontario.

If there are not enough candidates and an acclamation takes place. This means no voting will take place and those who entered their names in the race are named to council because of a lack of nominees.There are requirements for each municipality in the Rainy River District, a mayor and six councillors in Fort Frances, and Rainy River, and a reeve or mayor and four councilors in the other municipalities of the Rainy River District. If there are not enough nominated or acclaimed after the initial nomination period, nominations will be opened again for another day allowing more residents to submit the required paperwork in an effort to fill out a council. However, once there are enough members to form a quorum, town staff can make recommendations for how to proceed. In Fort Frances four members makes a quorum.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the mayor or counselors as long as we have four members they would form a quorum,” Lecuyer said. “At that point in time we can call a meeting and they can appoint one of themselves to be the head of council (if there was no chosen mayor).Then they could deal with any vacancies at that point in time. So with filling vacancies for offices usually staff would make recommendations to council, but it’s their determination how they decide to fill the vacancy(ies).”

Lecuyer went on to say that as long as council as a four-member quorum they can make an appointment to council as long as the appointee qualifies as an elector in the municipality. A council can also request a byelection to fill the vacancy(ies). Finally if there are further issues with filling out a council the town clerk can go to the courts for further guidance.

Once candidates file their nomination papers, they can start campaigning. Following the rules outlined in the act. If there are enough candidates, election day will be Oct. 24 and a new council would be sworn in Nov. 21.

In speculating why there may be so few nominations to this point, Lecuyer looks to the last four years and the challenges that the Fort Frances council has had to overcome.

“There could be a number of reasons that people are kind of hesitant,” She said. “We’ve seen it’s been a challenging council, they’ve had a challenging term. We’ve had flooding, we’ve had COVID, these are all issues people are not used to dealing with. There may be mixed messages being put out there in terms of what it’s really like to be on council.”

Lecuyer also says she was disappointed by the turnout to the election and council information session she hosted in the spring which only saw 11 people.

“I really wish that more people would have participated in the candidate information session,” she said. “There really was some good key things for people to learn about and ask those questions.”

For those interested in the information that was provided at the session, Lecuyer does have a recording and can put it on a flash drive; she can also provide the Powerpoint presentation from the session as well.

Lecuyer advises anyone who is considering a run for office now not to wait until the last day.

“The main message that I would get across at this point is don’t wait until Aug. 19. It’s a bad idea,” she said. “I know a lot of people tend to wait and see who’s putting their name in. I just worry that there could be issues and then you’re not leaving yourself enough time to fix some of those issues.”

Candidates as of publishing

Township of Alberton- four to five candidates, names unknown clerk on holidays

Township of Chapple

For Reeve:

James Gibson

For Council:

Ken Wilson

Philip Schram

Township of Dawson

For Mayor:

Douglas Hartnell

For Council:

Timo Breilmann

Lewis Kemp

Bill Langner

Township of Emo

For Councilor:

Lisa Teeple

Phil Whatley

Town of Fort Frances

For Councilor:

Kaleb Firth

Mike Behan

Township of LaVallee

For Reeve:

Kenneth Hyatt

Emily Watson

For Council:

Elaine Hughes

Brendan Hyatt

Daniel Rea

Lake of the Woods Township

For Mayor:

Colleen Fadden

For Council:

Kaitlyn Cottam

Bill Lundrigan

Township of Morley

For Reeve:

George Heyens

For Council:

Maria Vandenbrand

Ashley Morrison

Ray Hackett

Town of Rainy River