We’re pleased two candidates disqualified from running in last October’s county election will get a second chance to stand for office.
Three declared candidates - Rick Ackland, District 8; Jim Winsor, District 11, and Peter Jackson, District 2 - were disqualified when it was learned they continued to serve on municipal committees for which they received small honoraria.
Ackland and Winsor challenged the disqualification. When a judge overturned the decision in December, it paved the way for new elections in their respective districts, set for March 16.
It can be hard enough to find qualified candidates for municipal election at the best of times. The number of council or school board district seats filled by acclamation, election after election, is ample proof of that.
Barring willing candidates from running on technicalities like committee service is counterproductive. The most effective candidates for municipal office are often busy people - the kind of people who might serve as citizen appointees on municipal committees.
If the Municipal Elections Act makes it more difficult – or impossible – for these kinds of people to do their civic duty and run for office as well, then the act should be changed.
Once a councillor has been elected, he or she is expected to serve on municipal committees. When seeking re-election, do they have to resign from their posts on committees first? Nope.
So why should willing candidates like Ackland, Winsor and Jackson have been expected to do so in order to run?
Jackson, with years of experience as a village commissioner, chose not to challenge the decision. However, he has publicly called for a review of the Municipal Services Act.
Nominations don’t close until Feb. 19, but, as of press time, Ackland and the Dale Lloyd, who won in October, had both declared in District 8, with former councillor Ted Palmer, who also ran in October, considering it.
Three candidates have declared in District 11 –Gary Connolly, who won the October election, Winsor and, reportedly, New Minas village commissioner Dale Pineo.
It says a lot that so many candidates are considering a run at a Kings County seat, but there’s no question someone dropped the ball last fall when Ackland, Winsor and Jackson’s names were struck from the ballot.
Hopefully, those overseeing the election get it right this time.