Nominations have closed for New Brunswick's May 10 municipal election, and chief electoral officer Kim Poffenroth says the final numbers are better than expected.
As of April 6, there were eight municipalities in the province with no declared candidates for mayor.
"We did put a social media push on to make sure people were aware of all the contests or just human nature that people like to wait until the last minute, but we've actually seen less positions that are going to be acclaimed than in 2016 both for mayor and councillors." Poffenroth said.
Nominations closed Friday at 2 p.m. and all of the mayoral positions in the province have at least one person willing to take on the job.
Overall, the number of candidates for municipal positions is up, from 1024 in 2016 to 1083.
But three communities have more council positions than candidates: Drummond, Lamèque and Saint-Louis de Kent.
Poffenroth says it will be up to the individual councils to decide if there are enough members for a quorum, the number of people necessary to make decisions. She says by-elections will be held in the fall.
"We typically hold by-elections every October and November and we do wait, even though there are vacancies in those three municipalities, because typically there will be resignations, even though people have just been elected … through the summer and early fall. So we like to wait until things settle down after the councils are sworn in." she said.
Nine communities have enough candidates to fill councils by acclamation, without holding municipal elections. They include Bertrand, Centreville, Harvey, Nackawic, Oromocto, Riverside-Albert, Rivière-Verte, Rogersville and Upper Miramichi.
"I'd love to see an election for every position, but that is an improvement over 2016 when there were 17 municipalities that had their entire councils elected by acclamation." Poffenroth said.
Poffenroth is pleased with the number of candidates vying for mayor and council positions in some larger centres like Fredericton and Saint John, where there are a number of people running for all of the positions available.
"It's wonderful to see the number of local people who were willing to throw their hats in the ring" she said.
"It shows a real interest in what's going on in local government and an appreciation of the important decisions and contributions that their mayors and council make in their municipalities."
While there are enough people running to fill positions in the Regional Health Authority election contests, the same can't be said for the races for the District Education Council elections.
The biggest hole is in the Anglophone West School District, where there are 13 positions—6 with no candidates.
Poffenroth says the minister of Education and Early Childhood Development will place ads, seek names, and appoint people to the vacant positions.
"Those positions will be filled. Unfortunately they won't be filled through a democratic election." she said.
Voting options available
Now that the nominations have wrapped up, official ballots can be printed and will be available on April 19.
People can vote at any one of the 23 returning offices, mail-in ballots are available and advance polls will be held on May 1 and 3. Election day is May 10.
Municipal elections were supposed to be held in 2020, but were postponed by the pandemic.
Poffenroth says the experience gained during the provincial election last September has helped prepare for this vote.
"We're keeping an eye on the situation in Edmundston obviously because they're in a slightly different situation, but because we have that very recent experience it's actually going quite smoothly. I'm really pleased." she said.