Oxford Hesitant to Fill Empty Council Seats
Residents of Oxford are going to the polls again in January... maybe.
Oxford Town Council considered a date, tonight, for a proposed by-election to fill two vacant council seats. Last month’s election saw four councillors elected by acclamation due to a lack of candidates.
Councillors Wade Ashade and Brenton Colborne were returned to council, while new councillors Paul Jones and Carla Black filled in two more seats.
Chief Electoral Officer Linda Cloney offered a plan to the Committee-of-the Whole meeting of council earlier this month that would bring voters back to the polls in January.
Councillor Paul Jones again raised the question of whether the town could hold off on the election until April, shifting the expense of another trip to the polls into the next fiscal year.
Chief Administrative Officer Rachel Jones said a consultation with the Municipal Affairs office returned a solid “no” on that point - a by-election must be held. The Municipal Government Act requires a by-election to be held within a certain timeframe following the swearing-in of a new council, which took place two weeks ago.
Councillor Jones suggested that with the pandemic affecting so many government services, there might be consideration given by the province to allow for an exception to the rules.
In the end, council decided to set the date for a by-election on January 30th, but to also go back to Municipal Affairs and ask for a delay to April.
Council hopes to have an answer on the by-election question soon, to ensure enough lead time to put advertising and other pre-election tasks in motion.
If Municipal Affairs approves the delay, Council will meet again to rescind the January date, giving Oxford more time to prepare for the task of filling those two seats, and save approximately $5000, this fiscal year, by pushing the vote to April.
Meanwhile, they did settle one election tonight—the selection of Councillor Wade Adshade, a 16-year veteran of Oxford politics, as Deputy Mayor under new Mayor Greg Henley.
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