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Beaumont woman unsure whether she’ll run in byelection after resigning over unpaid bills

Just days after unpaid bills prompted her resignation from the Beaumont town council position she had just been elected to in October, Sabrina Powers says she doesn't know if she'll run again in a byelection. Global News

Just days after unpaid bills prompted her resignation from the Beaumont town council position she had just been elected to in October, Sabrina Powers says she doesn’t know if she’ll run again in a byelection.

“I haven’t decided if I will run in the byelection,” Powers told Global News on Monday. “This was pretty hard… you’re putting yourself out there… there is a level of embarrassment that comes with this as well.

“I don’t know if I have the strength to go through and potentially not win.”

On Friday, Powers posted to Facebook that she was resigning from town council after a technicality. She said she found out she owed money to the Town of Beaumont on Nov. 8.

“I did have outstanding payments for a utility bill and I had a little bit owing towards my property taxes as well,” she said on Monday. “I paid my bill immediately – we’re talking within 10 minutes of my finding out.

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“All I could think was, ‘Oh my God, this was an honest mistake but will people see it that way and how is this going to be perceived by the town or residents and I really hope that people understand that it was an honest mistake.'”

Powers said she went public about what happened because she believes she owed it to citizens of Beaumont to be accountable and transparent.

READ MORE: Beaumont councillor’s resignation over unpaid bill triggers byelection

Watch below: On Nov. 19, 2017, Sarah Kraus filed this report about why a byelection is being planned to fill a vacated seat in Beaumont only weeks after the municipal election was held.

Click to play video: 'Beaumont councillor’s resignation over unpaid bill triggers byelection' Beaumont councillor’s resignation over unpaid bill triggers byelection
Beaumont councillor’s resignation over unpaid bill triggers byelection – Nov 19, 2017

According to the Local Authority Elections Act, all money owed to a municipality must be paid in full by nomination day, which was Sept. 16.

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“She was therefore, under the Municipal Government Act, disqualified to serve as her role as councillor,” Mayor John Stewart told Global News on Monday. “And if you’re disqualified you must resign.

“The responsibility lies with the individual candidate. As they file for election they swear an affidavit that they’re eligible under the Local Authorities Election Act to run and they file that they’ll accept office if elected.”

Powers said upon realizing her mistake she had the option to either take the issue to council which could dismiss it, but would have a three-year window in which to revisit the issue, take it to the Court of Queen’s Bench and have a judge decide what should happen or submit a resignation, resulting in a byelection. She said her colleagues asked her to resign and so she decided to make that choice even though she did not have to.

“I chose to resign and really, if you think about it, if all your colleagues asked you to resign, what would you do?” she said.

Stewart acknowledged Powers was asked to resign after council held closed-door discussions about the issue on Nov. 14 but said the decision was not made out of any ill-will.

“This is a really unfortunate situation and it came completely out of left field. We didn’t expect to see this one coming,” he said. “To be quite frank about it, Sabrina is a pillar in our community. She’s a local business woman, she volunteers relentlessly. This is the second time she ran for council — she lost the first time, won this time. She really wants to serve this community and I’ll be quite honest, I was gob-smacked when this all came out.

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“I would really have preferred that this didn’t happen and she stayed on council.”

Stewart said council has 90 days to fill the position and he is not sure how much the byelection will cost.

Municipal Affairs confirmed to Global News as long as Powers paid her bills, she would be eligible to run in the byelection.

“I think this particular set of scenarios is quite rare and it’s unfortunate that it happened,” Stewart said.

“It’s a roller coaster,” Powers said of what her past week has been like. “You’re like, ‘Oh my God I’m running’ and you’re just a rack of nerves and then you win and you’re so excited and hit the ground running and then this happens.”

-With files from Sarah Kraus and Karen Bartko

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