Last evening Bonfield’s council filled a seat left vacant after Sylvie Beaudoin resigned in May.
Jason Corbett was appointed to the position from a pool of seven potential candidates.
Usually, when a municipality is looking to fill a vacant seat, they refer to the previous election’s vote count and see if the next person on that list is interested.
Bonfield was in a bit of a pickle, as there was one person on that list, and he had moved out of the municipality.
Another option was to call an election, although with one year remaining on council’s term, they decided to forgo that option and save those expenses.
They decided to invite the candidates to appear via Zoom during their regular meeting. Five of the seven appeared. Each had an opportunity to make a brief speech, followed by questions from Mayor and council.
Once questions concluded, it was time to “go down the list alphabetically and call each member of council one by one on a recorded vote,” said chief administrative officer, Peter Johnston, explaining the process.
Clerk Andree Gagne then read the candidates names, and each councillor offered their vote aloud. Each candidate received one vote in the first round.
Deadlocked, “now we go to round two,” Johnston said, “and it needs to be said that you’re not required to vote the same as you did in round one.”
“Because obviously if you do, we will have the same result.”
No new speeches were delivered, and no new questions were asked before the second round of voting. Corbett’s name was called first—as per the alphabetical list—and he received three votes.
Voting ceased there, and Corbett was declared the new councillor.
“That caught me by surprise,” Mayor Randy McLaren said. “I didn’t realize that our process was over.”
“We had three votes for one candidate,” Johnston clarified, “and that’s what’s required.”
“As I mentioned from the outset,” Mayor McLaren said, “there’s a sting in this process and that’s certainly evident on the faces of some of the participants, and I apologize for that.”
He then acknowledged half-jokingly that the process was an “agonizing approach to pick a councillor,” after thanking each candidate for their interest.
“We had a very strong field of candidates here, and there’s certainly room for all your input,” he said, adding that all candidates are “active and valuable members of our community.”
Corbett looks forward to serving on council. Since moving to the community three years ago from North Bay, he has been “giving back quite a bit of time within the community,” and believes the “small town with big heart, has enormous potential for growth opportunities.”
Recently, Corbett completed the Municipal Administration Program through the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, admitting “a passion for the work that municipalities do.”
Corbett has much experience in management and administration, having been involved with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, North Bay Economic Development Corporation, “and senior leadership roles within various organizations” throughout the region.
“I’m a proud resident of Bonfield,” he said, and looks forward “to joining the team to continue making great progress within the municipality.”
Corbett will be sworn in during the next council meeting and will serve until November 2022.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca