Council seat will be filled by next eligible candidate

Brock Frost's empty council seat. Council decided Nov. 9, 2015 to fill the seat with the next eligible candidate, likely former Coun. Denis Carr. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The city will offer a vacant council seat to the next eligible person in line from the municipal election.

In a recorded vote, all of council with the exception of Coun. Justin Towndale, who wanted a by-election – voted to pick the next person.

The discussion was almost stopped before it started as a majority of councillors nixed an attempt by one of their colleagues to call a special council meeting to fill the vacant council seat.

Coun. Bernadette Clement had attempted to strike a special quorum. “It wouldn’t hurt to have a special meeting to discuss this. Well, it’s $150,000 for this (by-election) or $0 for this (appointment). If council feels (it needs) to rush this, that’s fine,” Clement quipped. She wanted to look at options such as online voting.

But she didn’t get any supporters.

“The issue we’re trying to mediate…it’s time we turned this situation around,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald

“There’s been nobody sitting in that chair since August…it’s been long enough,” Coun. David Murphy said, pointing at the empty chair across the room, vacated by Brock Frost.

“The sooner we act on this, the sooner we can welcome a new colleague to council,” Coun. Justin Towndale added.

Coun. Bernadette Clement and Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy voted against moving ahead tonight (Monday).

With discussion on how to fill the seat going ahead, councillors didn’t warm to the idea of a by-election.

“The expense of a by-election…in the middle of budget time…it’s a bad time,” Coun. Maurice Dupelle.

“Thirty-six hundred people cast their vote for the next candidate. Again, around budget time, I think we can use the money elsewhere,” Coun. David Murphy said.

Murphy said the last three vacancies were filled by the next eligible candidate in line and this time should be no different.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy made it clear that, while it’s been widely reported that Guy St-Jean doesn’t want the seat, it will still be offered to him before Denis Carr is asked.

Carr was in the audience for tonight’s meeting. When asked by reporters, he was non-committal until the position is offered to him.

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