By Kirk Starratt
Voters in two Kings County districts will be heading back to the polls in the new year. Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Gregory Warner declared results of the Oct. 20 municipal elections in districts 8 and 11 void Dec. 21, necessitating new elections in these districts.
In handing down his decision Warner ruled District 8 candidate Rick Ackland and District 11 candidate Jim Winsor were not disqualified from running for council or serving as councillors because they failed to resign or take leave of absence from their roles as remunerated volunteer appointees on municipal committees and boards. Ackland served on the Grand View Manor board at the time he was disqualified from running in the election by returning officer Heather Archibald; Winsor served on the county’s trails committee.
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“What mischief is remedied by having volunteers seek a leave of absence?” Warner stated rhetorically in reading his decision.
He pointed out sitting councillors aren’t required to seek a similar leave or resign from the same committees when reoffering for election. He saw no greater potential for a conflict of interests for citizen appointees than elected councillors serving on such committees and boards.
Warner ruled it was not within the jurisdiction of the returning officer to revoke nominations after accepting them, as the role of municipal returning officers is administrative and not adjudicative.
Warner determined election results in the subject districts were affected as a result.