Runner-up to fill vacant Tehkummah council seat

TEHKUMMAH—At its final council meeting of the year, Tehkummah council carried a motion to fill the vacant council position left by Laird Lee on August 27, choosing to use the 2014 election results for the replacement councillor and offer the vacant seat to the runner-up in 2014.

Councillor Paul Bowerman moved the following motion: “That any present and future seat vacancy will be filled by election results of the next runner-up candidate who is qualified under the Municipal Elections Act and has consented to accept the office if appointed.”

Everyone was in favour, except for Councillor Ron Hierons.

The 2014 councillor election results for Tehkummah were as follows: Paul Bowerman, 180; Ron Hierons, 157; Laird Lee, 128; Lorie Leeson, 124; Lydia McKenna, 113; Mike McKenzie, 112; and Don McMurray, 90, and therefore the position first falls to Ms. McKenna.

Ms. McKenna was unable to be reached by The Expositor by press time, but Reeve Eric Russell told this newspaper that he had received both a verbal and a written response from the past councillor, saying that she was not interested in filling the seat.

At the meeting, Reeve Russell tried to give Ms. Gerrard a piece of correspondence from Ms. McKenna denying the seat, but the clerk-treasurer refused, stating that she had to officially make that contact.

Mike McKenzie, next in line, has confirmed with this newspaper that he is willing to stand, though this has not been made official by the passing of a motion. This will likely take place during the first meeting of the New Year.

At the start of the meeting, Tehkummah Clerk-Treasurer Karen Gerrard advised council to first pass a bylaw which would stipulate how council would fill the vacant seat, rather than passing a motion to physically do it. Reeve and council, however, decided to go against her advice and push toward filling the seat as quickly as possible.

“Do you think this will be done before November next year?” Councillor Lorie Leeson asked tongue-in-cheek.

“Don’t count on it,” the reeve responded.

The clerk was to officially contact Ms. McKenna and then the next in line, Mr. McKenzie, until an acceptance was formally made.

Mr. McKenzie told The Expositor that he sat on council 14 years ago, a time of “cleaning house”

As for this term of council, “there is a huge mess that needs to be dealt with again,” he said.

Council “needs to leave personal agendas, needs to leave personal feelings outside the council chambers.”

“You’ve seen the performance,” he observed to this reporter, describing Tehkummah council meetings, “the whining, the complaining and nothing’s getting done.”

Mr. McKenzie said he has a big problem with the missing office files. As this newspaper has reported previously, Ms. Gerrard moved the files from the office “to a secure location,” but has not told council just where that location is.

“I’m not saying they (the files) didn’t need to be moved, but we need to know where they are,” Mr. McKenzie said.

He added that he is afraid that the municipality, with the way things are going, will soon be run by the ministry. “The municipality is a business and it needs to be run that way,” he said.

As of press time, the clerk-treasurer had not contacted Mr. McKenzie.