Cambridge Ward 7 Constituents Will Have Spring Byelection
Second Place Candidate Connie Cody Is Not Approved
Constituents living in Cambridge's Ward 7 will have the opportunity to vote in a byelection next spring to elect a replacement for former councillor Frank Monteiro who passed away this October from cancer.
The final vote was 6-2 in favour of a byelection, with councillors Donna Reid and Pam Wolf voting against an election. Wolf and Reid both cited the high cost of the process and preferred to have a nominee appointed by council.
Nomination day is scheduled February 7, 2020, with a proposed byelection date for March 23, 2020.
The cost of the vote would be up to $100,000 and will be paid for through the city's election reserve fund which currently has a balance of $273,000.
Wolf proposed to have a selection process at an open council meeting and have the elected candidate begin in January. She pointed to the low turnout during the October 2018 election where three-quarters of eligible voters in Ward 7 did not vote in the last municipal election.
"In the fall 2018 election Ward 7 had one of the lowest eligible voter turn outs in the city. Unfortunately byelections generally have even less," Wolf said during the Tuesday night council meeting .
"I hoped that by having an application process and deliberations in open council we can choose a well qualified representative for Ward 7 and not spend $100,000 that a byelection would cost."
In the 2018 municipal elections there was a dismal turnout of 26%. Of the 8,491 eligible voters only 2,156 people cast their vote. Monteiro won with 1,016 votes. Connie Cody came in second with 685 votes, followed by Ryan Coles with 237 and Cody Botelho with 218, according to numbers provided by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Despite the low voter turnout Councillor Jan Ligget believes the people living in the ward have a right to vote and elect their representative.
"It's not a fair process when we have three years left and we don't do a byelection," Ligget said. "It's not a fair process to the residents of ward 7 for us to make a decision that they themselves should be making."
“It’s up to the people to decide to vote or not, at least they have the option,” Ligget said.
Steven Wittman, a resident of Ward 7, appeared before council maintaining that Connie Cody, the second past the post finisher to Frank Monteiro in 2018, should be appointed as councillor.
"Connie Cody is the democratic choice," Wittman said. "And she doesn't come with the high $100,000-plus price tag. There's no wait. It's immediate," said Wittman.
Mayor Kathryn McGarry also supported holding the byelection, but told the meeting that all the options presented by staff are laid out in the Ontario Municipal Act and are all democratic.
The March 23 vote will be the second time Cambridge voters have gone to the polls for a byelection. In 1981, they voted in Harry Mazmanian to fill the seat left vacant with the death of Bernice Adams. On two other occasions, council has chosen to select an applicant to fill the vacancy.
Doesn't Second Place Count For Something?
Still, in the democratic election of 2018, Connie Cody was the people's second choice. Doesn't that count for something? If Cody were to run again in the spring byelection and wins, will this process have been worth the $100,000 price tag?