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Byelection to replace Sudbury councillors would cost $388K for each ward

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As they grieve the sudden passing of two members of city council, local politicians must decide how to replace them with about 2 1/2 years to go before the next election.

A report headed to council Feb. 27 outlines options for replacing Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini and Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier.

The options are holding a byelection, which would cost about $388,000 per ward ($776,000 total), appointing a candidate who ran in the ward in the 2022 vote, or simply appointing someone of their choosing.

Under Ontario’s Municipal Act, local councils must fill vacancies unless the vacancy occurs within 90 days of the next election. When a member dies, the council must declare the seat vacant within the next two meetings.

“In addition to the requirement to declare the office vacant, the Act requires that such office be filled within very brief timelines,” the staff report said.

“The selection and appointment of a person or the decision to proceed with a byelection must be made within 60 days of council passing the declaration that the office is vacant.”

A report headed to council Feb. 27 outlines options for replacing Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini and Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier, who both passed away this month. (File)

If councillors decide to appoint someone, they can pick anyone they want as long as they are 18, a Canadian citizen and live in Greater Sudbury.

To find someone to appoint, municipal councils will often turn to candidates who ran in the previous election, usually the runner-up. They can also open the process to applications from the public.

“In 2014, two vacancies for the office of ward councillor occurred in the City of Greater Sudbury and in both cases, city council directed the process contemplated in this option,” the report said.

“For clarity, council is not required to select this option even though it was used in 2014.”

Under this option, candidates would make their pitch in a five-minute presentation to the city’s nominating committee, which would then vote to pick the winner.

Finally, the most democratic – but expensive – option would be to hold a byelection in each ward to fill the vacancies.

“In general, byelections are to be conducted as similarly as possible to the regular election, which means that the voting methods used in 2022 would be mirrored for a byelection,” the staff report said.

“Byelections require significant staff and financial resources and include all the same processes of a regular election on a condensed timeline.”

Depending on how quickly the process goes, the byelection would likely be held in August.

“Total cost for a byelection involving a single councillor vacancy is approximately $388,000,” the report said.

Read the full report here.

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