SOUTHWEST MIDDLESEX - A sombre moment of silence at council’s Oct. 13 online meeting was followed by an at-times heated debate on how to fill the vacancy left by the passing of ward two Coun. Ian Carruthers last month.
In the end, and after some technical difficulty requiring the clerk to fill in for the CAO, the vote was unanimous to call for applications to fill the seat until next October’s election. Council will choose from those who submit their names.
Ward one Coun. Christa Cowell recused herself as the daughter of third-place vote getter and former Coun. Rick Cowell. One of the options was to appoint Rick Cowell to the seat, the last option was to hold a by-election.
The by-election option was not considered seriously with so little time to organize it before the next full election, and the cost associated.
A motion to appoint Rick Cowell was defeated with only Deputy Mayor Marigay Wilkins and ward two Coun. Doug Bartlett voting for the idea. Rick Cowell received 342 votes in the last ward two election to Carruthers’ 663 and Bartlett’s 566.
Ward three Coun. Mike Sholdice took the opportunity in council’s discussion to again bring up a building inspector for the municipality, who is a contracted worker not an employee but is the husband of Coun. Christa Cowell. He was one of six inspectors appointed in April.
Sholdice said he believed there was no doubt Rick Cowell can do the job, but there was a potential of conflict of interest with his daughter on council, and then one quarter of council would be related to a building inspector. Coun. Martin Vink agreed conflict was there with wages being paid by the municipality.
Coun. Mark McGill said he preferred the application then appointment option because he believes others are interested in the position.
The last council appointment made was after the resignation of Coun. John Kendall, who ran for mayor in 2018 and lost with five percent of the vote.
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner