Pinsonneault now on unpaid leave from council

Steve Pinsonneault has taken an unpaid leave of absence from Chatham-Kent Council as he prepares for the Lambton Kent Middlesex by-election on May 2.

Pinsonneault, the senior member of the Council, is serving his fifth term as a Ward 3 East Kent councillor, having been first elected in 2006.

Pinsonneault is representing the Progressive Conservatives in the by-election as he faces seven other candidates vying for the LKM riding seat at Queen’s Park.

“I realize that I don’t have to take a leave of absence under the municipal rules,” Pinsonneault said in a letter to Council, which Mayor Darrin Canniff read at the April 8 meeting.

“However, I need to put my full attention to the election process and don’t feel that the Chatham-Kent taxpayers should pay for my time away,” Pinsonneault said.

Pinsonneault has full support from Council on his run for provincial political office.

“I’m excited for him, for his opportunity,” Mayor Canniff said of Pinsonneault’s run at a Member of Provincial Parliament seat.

If Pinsonneault is successful, his seat on the Chatham-Kent Council will be filled by either a by-election or Moréna McDonald, who finished third behind Pinsonneault and John Wright in the 2022 election, will be appointed.

Pinsonneault totalled 2,049 votes in the 2022 election, while Wright was second with 1,727 and McDonald third with 1,161. Matt Lamarche finished fourth with 315 votes, and Martin Fisher fifth with 216.

Council will decide on which option as soon as possible after the by-election.

“It will be really tough shoes to fill, if he’s successful in his venture,” Canniff said of Pinsonneault.

The LKM riding was created in 1999 as the Progressive Conservatives held the seat from 1999-2003 and 2011 to the present, while the Liberals were in office from 2003-11.

The nomination period for the May 2 by-election ended last Thursday as Pinsonneault is running against seven other candidates:

Cathy Burghardt-Jesson – Liberal

Kathryn Shailer – NDP

Andraena Tilgner – Green Party

Keith Benn - New Blue Party

Stephen Campbell – None of the Above Party

Cynthia Workman – Independent

Hilda Walton – Family Rights Party

The Lambton Kent Middlesex riding consists of Chatham-Kent north of the Thames River (excluding the city of Chatham), western Middlesex County (excluding London and Thames Centre) and Lambton County (excluding Sarnia).

Advance polls will take place in five locations, including Hidden Hills Golf Course in Oungah and the Glencoe Agricultural Hall, this Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Voters can also cast their ballots at the LKM returning office in Strathroy (the former Amy’s Restaurant, 28537 Centre Road) or the satellite office in Wallaceburg (County Fair Mall, 11-60 McNaughton Ave.) this Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday noon-5 p.m. at both locations.

The polls are open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on May 2.

Voting cards have been mailed as poll locations are available online at www.voterinformationservice.elections.on.ca

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News