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After mayor chosen by draw, Peachland looks to change election rules

Mayoral hopefuls Cindy Fortin and Harry Gough watch over the judicial recount in Peachland in 2018. The tied election was eventually determined by a draw.
Mayoral hopefuls Cindy Fortin and Harry Gough watch over the judicial recount in Peachland in 2018. The tied election was eventually determined by a draw. Global News

It seems some don’t want to see history repeat itself in Peachland.

After a tied election in 2018 led to the municipality’s current mayor being chosen by a draw, the district is looking at changing its elections rules to prevent a repeat.

The district is looking at requiring a runoff election to be held if the candidates for mayor are tied after a judicial recount.

If candidates for council were also tied after a judicial recount, the election would still be determined by drawing names.

READ MORE: Incumbent Cindy Fortin wins draw and will continue on as mayor of Peachland

If needed, it’s expected a runoff mayoral election would cost the district around $25,000.

Municipal staff said conducting a runoff election in the event of a tie could leave the community without a mayor for more than two months.

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However, while discussing the issue at a council meeting in late November, Coun. Keith Fielding said he’d heard from the public that they believed it was “really inappropriate for the position of mayor to be decided by lottery.”

READ MORE: ‘This isn’t a hockey game’: Peachland mayoral race could be decided by draw

Mayor Cindy Fortin, who won last year’s draw, said she felt that leaving the election to a draw was “highly unfair.”

“Supporters and non-supporters both said the same thing, they wished there was a runoff election,” Fortin told council.

Some concern was raised around the council table that a runoff election might not be worth the time and money.

However, over all, there appeared to be a lot of support from council for the proposed change.

Fortin said while a tie scenario likely won’t happen again, in fairness to the electorate “it should be the people that decide.”

Peachland council is expected to vote on the proposal at its Tuesday meeting.

Watch the name being pulled out of a box to determine who will be the mayor of Peachland after judicial recount verifies a tie
Watch the name being pulled out of a box to determine who will be the mayor of Peachland after judicial recount verifies a tie

In 2018, after a judicial recount, Fortin, who was the incumbent mayor, and challenger Harry Gouch were tied at 804 votes each.

The election was then decided in Fortin’s favour after her name was drawn from a box.

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Peachland surveyed other B.C. local governments and found that many require tied elections to be determined by draws.

Of the 100 local governments that responded to the survey, 90 per cent of them have bylaws specifying that tied elections should be decided by a draw.

Only one local government surveyed reported they are considering changing their bylaws to require a runoff election because of what happened in Peachland.

– with files from Klaudia Van Emmerik

Peachland mayor could be chosen by a draw
Peachland mayor could be chosen by a draw