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Grand Valley Council Seat Open to Public Nominations

Grand Valley Council Seat Open to Public Nominations - Do you live in Grand Valley and Want to Be a councillor?

Grand Valley’s council decided to fill the vacant seat through appointment by nomination.

On May 25, 2021, Grand Valley’s Chief Administrative Officer and Clerk-Treasurer Meghan Townsend presented a report to council that laid out the options for filling the council opening. This followed council formally declaring a vacancy due to the resignation of Councillor Elizabeth Taylor. No reason was provided for Taylor’s departure, although there have been no indications that the move resulted from tensions on council.

“Do we have to accept it? Can we just say that she’s irreplaceable and leave it alone?” joked Deputy Mayor Philip Rentsch. “We’ve gone through this once. That’s enough, isn’t it?”

The options available for finding Taylor’s replacement included holding a by-election, appointment from the candidates of the previous election, and appointment from nominations. Staff’s recommended alternative, appointment from nominations, was noted to be cost-effective and still provided the opportunity for community participation. Expenses will consist of newspaper advertising, staff time, and some office resources. Although appointment from the 2018 election candidates would be the most economical move, council members agreed that it made little sense to do something different than what they had for the last vacancy. Earlier this term, Councillor Stephen Miles was appointed to replace Sam Pringle when he resigned.

“We got lucky last time,” said Mayor Steve Soloman. “I was a little bit hesitant but it seemed to work out okay.”

Deputy Mayor Rentsch mentioned he would prefer to choose from the candidates of the previous election, something he said he advocated for last time. Rentsch said it would ensure council didn’t pick somebody from their own ‘club’. The deputy mayor also wanted the candidate interviews to take place in person.

“I’ve never interviewed somebody over the internet, and I don’t know if I want to,” explained Rentsch, “but if the timeline dictates that we have to do it virtually, then I suppose we will.”

CAO Meghan Townsend said it might be possible, depending on the circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic. Except for one public meeting held at the Grand Valley and District Community Centre, all of the town’s council meetings have been virtual since the first pandemic-inspired ‘lockdown.’ Townsend also suggested pushing the date of the interviews out to August, when there is a higher chance of gatherings being permitted. Provincial legislation sets timelines for filling council vacancies, but councils, including Amaranth and Melancthon, have recently surpassed them with no consequence.

Councillor Miles proposed broadcasting the proceedings, similar to what Amaranth did when performing their candidate interviews, but the Mayor was unsure if the town was equipped for that.

“I wasn’t thinking of not meeting in person when I first read this. The easiest way would be to ask the person that finished fourth.” said Mayor Soloman. “That’s a slam dunk.”

Soloman asked council what they would prefer.

“I’m just not sure how you could argue that we went through a different process to appoint me,” told Councillor Miles, “and that we throw that out and say now we’re going to use a different process for no good reason.”

Soloman responded that the reasons were the limitations on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic but affirmed that he was okay with sticking with the solution of appointment from nominations.

Townsend said they could change the meeting format closer to the date, but as of right now, they would plan for everyone to meet virtually through WebEx.

“The final format could be decided a couple weeks beforehand, when we know more where we’re at in July,” delineated Townsend. “For the most part, the process doesn’t change. It’s just the media through which the process is broadcast that may.”

According to the notice posted to the Grand Valley website, those eligible and interested in applying for Grand Valley’s open council seat should submit a completed and signed nomination form and a Consent to Provide Candidate Contact Information form to the town by July 13, 2021, at 2:00 pm. Personal statements of qualification, not exceeding two pages in length, should be attached to the application. Packages that do not include the requirements specified by the town will not be provided to council or included in the agenda. Applicants should call the town office to ensure staff are there to receive the package, in addition to being notified of the appropriate health and safety protocols. Inquiries regarding the application process should be directed to town staff.

Contrary to Amaranth and Melancthon, Grand Valley’s council will not choose the appointee through ranked ballot. Instead, they will eliminate candidates through multiple rounds of voting. Council selected this method to stick with the familiar approach and the perceived complexities surrounding ranked balloting.

Candidates for Grand Valley’s open council seat will be interviewed at a special council meeting on July 20, 2021, at 7:30 pm. According to the draft policy, candidates will have five minutes to make a presentation, followed by a question period with council members. Every councillor will be allowed to ask each candidate two questions, with a two-minute response time being granted. Unlike Melancthon, there will be no opportunity for residents to ask applicants questions at a public forum. When not addressing council, applicants will be sequestered virtually. Order of speaking will be determined by lot.

The declaration of office for whoever is chosen to be Grand Valley’s newest councillor is expected to occur on August 10, 2021, at 10:00 am.

An unofficial list of those who have submitted application forms will be prepared and updated as soon as possible after receiving the required documents.

May 28, 2021: Updated to include links to the documents and times of meetings provided by the notice posted to the Town of Grand Valley website.

References – Grand Valley Council Seat Open to Public Nominations

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