Thompson residents and property owners will elect a new council member Oct. 13 to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Jody Kolada back in April.
Council passed a resolution at their Aug. 10 meeting to set the election date for the second Tuesday of October in hopes that the winner will be sworn in in time for the organizational meeting at the beginning of November, when committee chairpersons and members are appointed by the mayor and elected by their fellow councillors.
A provincial order related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had suspended the holding of byelections until it expired July 31.
“This is the date that would get us the quickest election possible,” said city manager Anthony McInnis, who said that the School District of Mystery Lake also anticipates having a vacancy on their board of trustees that could be filled with a concurrent byelection on the same date, though the resignation, reportedly of trustee Samantha Chartrand, has not yet been approved by the board.
The byelection will be the second in Thompson in less than two years. Coun. Andre Proulx beat Chiew Chong and former councillor Blake Ellis in March 2019 to fill a vacancy that resulted when Proulx and Chong received the same number of votes for the final available spot during the October 2018 municipal election. Prior to that, it had been almost 10 years since the last council byelection in Thompson in December 2009, when Erin Stewart beat four other candidates to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Cory Young.
The byelection will be overseen by Norma Howitt, who was approved by council in May as the new senior election official, taking over the job from Dave Turpie.
While the details of when candidates must register by and the running of the byelection will be in Howitt’s hands, Mcinnis said it will likely look a bit different than the previous byelection.
“We’re going to have to modify some of the voting procedures to ensure social distancing,” he said. “We’ll have to take all these extra precautions and encourage the use of the mail-in ballots.”
To run for councillor, candidates must be Canadian citizens, 18 years or older as of election day and eligible voters in the municipality in which they are running. Municipal employees may run for office if they take a leave of absence from their jobs. Members of the Manitoba legislature, the House of Commons or the Senate are not eligible to run, nor are judges or justices of the peace. Those previously convicted of an election offence or who failed to pay a fine after being convicted of other Municipal Act offences are also not eligible as candidates.