Elections New Brunswick walks back postponed municipal by-elections

A voter sits behind a voting screen while marking their vote during the New Brunswick provincial election in Dieppe, N.B. on Monday, September 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

New Brunswick’s chief electoral officer has walked back her office’s decision to postpone municipal by-elections as a result discussions with a group representing municipalities in the province.

“I listened to the concerns raised by the [Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick],” said Kim Poffenroth.

“My responsibility is to ensure communities have governments, municipal or provincial, that are elected and able to effectively serve their residents.”

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The Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick (UMNB) had sounded the alarm about Poffenroth’s changes earlier this week, saying that municipal by-elections scheduled for Dec. 3, 2018, had been moved to May 6, 2019.

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UMNB said that some municipal governments have had seats vacant since April, while current vacancies in Aroostook, N.B., have resulted in the municipality unable to meet quorum and unable to conduct day-to-day business.

As a result of the discussion between the two sides, the province’s municipal by-elections have now been re-scheduled to Dec. 10, 2018.

In her original decision, Poffenroth had said that the electoral uncertainty around the provincial government and the possibility of a snap election was causing her office’s limited resources to be stretched too thin — an issue which she echoed in her press release on Friday.

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“Our capacity to prepare simultaneously for the municipal by-elections and for a potential provincial general election remains a significant challenge to our human resources,” she said.

“However, my staff is confident that we will be able to prepare for these municipal by-elections, so long as further resources are available to continue preparations for an unscheduled provincial election.”

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There are 20 municipalities in the province that have official declared one or more council vacancies, according to Elections New Brunswick. There are at least two other municipalities where vacancies exist but have yet to official notified the elections organization.

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Communities with declared council vacancies are:

  • Alma (one councillor)
  • Aroostook (mayor and one councillor)
  • Bathurst (one councillor)
  • Beaubassin East, (councillors for wards 3 and 4)
  • Dalhousie (one councillor)
  • Doaktown (mayor)
  • Florenceville-Bristol (one councillor for ward 2)
  • Hartland (one councillor)
  • Lac Baker (one councillor)
  • Minto (mayor)
  • Moncton (one councillor for ward 3)
  • Nackawic (one councillor)
  • Rexton (one councillor)
  • Rivière-Verte (one councillor)
  • Sackville (one councillor)
  • Saint Andrews (one councillor)
  • Salisbury (one councillor)
  • St. George (one councillor)
  • Sussex Corner (mayor and one councillor)
  • Tracadie, (councillors for wards 1, 2 and 7)

Nominations for municipal by-elections close at 2 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2018.

According to Elections New Brunswick, the vacancies of municipal representatives impact nearly 90,000 electors or approximately 23 per cent of electors living in a municipality in the province.

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