To by-elect or to council appoint; Huntsville our poll results are in should your mayor win

Agatha Farmer

HUNTSVILLE- As Parry Sound - Muskoka residents prepare to exercise their democratic right to vote during the Oct. 21 federal election, Huntsville residents seem to be ready to do the same in a by-election should their mayor win the riding under his party’s Conservative banner.

According to a Muskoka Post six day Facebook and Twitter poll the majority voted for a by-election should Scott Aitchison win this riding. Our Facebook poll had 72 people out of 96 vote in favour of a by-election to the 24 who chose appointment to council. Our Twitter poll resulted in 81 per cent of votes for a by-election.

In a recent town report staff have outlined the cost and recommended a method of voting should a by-election be required in Huntsville.

“The largest costs of an election budget is based on the number of eligible electors in the municipality.

Due to the timelines as outlined in the Municipal Act, 2001 and Municipal Elections Act, 1996, staff are not afforded the same amount of preparation time for a by-election which is the same as a regular municipal election, but potentially on a smaller scale in cost depending on the position to be filled.

As the timelines are very short, staff believe having a set method in place for all potential by-elections within the 2018-2022 Term of Council would allow more productive preparation time in advance; should there be a by-election called within the term.”

Staff has recommended the internet and telephone method of voting as this option would cost taxpayers $107,488 as opposed to voting by mail which would run over $145,000.

As of Sept. 16 Huntsville’s election reserve balance sits at just over $88,000.

The 2022 election budget is yet to be determined.

Resident Sherri McGrath is not impressed at having to choose another potential mayor a year after one was elected and wrote the following on a social media post.

“I think Aitchison has shown he does not care as he has a job serving Muskokans, and he put that on hold to do this, but he is hedging to ensure he has a job, that is disingenuous.”

Another Muskoka resident Jan Jacklin left a comment on our Twitter poll stating that she thinks a by-election “should happen even if he loses.”

Elections are the price we pay for a fair democratic process of choosing our public officials. The argument for council appointment seems to stem from a desire to save tax payers money - that is a legitimate concern.

Another legitimate concern is that Mr. Aitchison had the desire to represent and work for Huntsville taxpayers when he ran for mayor just last year in 2018 asking for support to be voted into that position. Huntsville tax payers did just that and elected Aitchison as their chosen public official to lead their municipality. Until that is the Conservative Parry Sound-Muskoka federal riding nomination occurred.

Perhaps Mr. Aitchison could have considered the extra burden of a possible by-election on Huntsville’s tax payers and been the fiscal Conservative he claims to be while fulfilling his mayoral duties until 2022, and not placing the extra burden on the same tax payers who elected him exactly 1 year ago with another 3 years left in his term.

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