Manitobans normally head to the polls every four years to elect municipal councillors, mayors and reeves but Lynn Lake residents will be repeating the whole process for the second time in less than four months this February after having too few candidates elected or acclaimed to achieve a quorum in the general election at the end of October.
There were only three candidates — two mayoral and one for council — in the Oct. 26 election. Vicki Phillips was acclaimed as a councillor with the three other positions on the body left open, while David Campbell, a councillor from 2018 to 2022, beat former mayor Audie Dulewich 92 votes to 65 in the mayoral election. There were 325 registered voters in Lynn Lake at the conclusion of the Oct. 26 election, said Lynn Lake municipal clerk and senior election official Darryl Watts, putting voter turnout at close to 50 per cent, which is high for a municipal election.
With only two of five positions filled — the head of council and one councillor — there wasn’t a quorum, which requires a minimum of three elected representatives, effectively rendering the election results null and void.
“Without quorum, a municipal council cannot fulfill basic municipal functions such as approving payments, making decisions, responding to emergencies, or fill vacancies on the council after the election by appointment or by calling a byelection,” said a provincial government spokesperson.
Under Manitoba law, a council or school board with quorum can either hold a byelection to fill empty positions or appoint people who meet eligibility requirements, provided the elected members can agree on who to appoint.
As a result of not enough elected positions being filled, the province appointed an administrator to oversee what would normally be the responsibilities of the mayor and council on Oct. 27. When such an administrator is appointed, the elected members of council are deemed to have resigned.
“The administrator was ordered to hold an election to elect a new council for the Town of Lynn Lake as soon as reasonably possible,” said the spokesperson.
As a result, Lynn Lake voters will once again cast ballots in a byelection on Feb. 15.
On the bright side, however, this time they know they won’t be repeating the process again anytime soon, barring any post-election resignations.
Registration of candidates concluded Jan. 10 and this time there are two mayoral candidates and six people running for four council positions.
Campbell is seeking to get the most votes for mayor again, this time in a two-person race with another member of the same family as his opponent in October — Brandon Dulewich.
Phillips has put her name forth as a potential candidate again. She is running against Anne Kenny Thompson, Ashley Moreau, Mitch Skomorowski, Eugene Shin and Tyler Hunt.
Advance voting is scheduled for Feb. 8 at the town office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters who will not be able to go to the voting place to cast ballots on Feb. 8 or Feb. 15 can apply in person to the senior election official for a sealed envelope ballot between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14.
Once the new mayor and council is elected, the administrator’s appointment to oversee town affairs will be revoked.