There could be a race for the mayor’s seat if a byelection is called

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Now that Scott Aitchison has been elected as the next Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka he will be given an opportunity to bid his council farewell and officially resign as mayor of Huntsville when councillors meet on October 28.

The municipality will then be required to officially declare the mayor’s position as vacant either at that meeting or the following meeting in November. From there the clock will start ticking; within 60 days of declaring the head of council seat vacant councillors will have to decide how to fill it: either by holding a byelection or through an appointment process.

District and Town Councillor Tim Withey, who is eyeing the vacancy, has made his position clear. He has maintained for some time that the head of council is too important a position not to be decided by the residents of Huntsville, rather than a council appointment, despite the estimated $100,000 municipal staff have said it would cost to hold a byelection.

There is speculation that Withey would have a better chance at becoming mayor in a byelection than through a council appointment since he’s a newcomer when it comes to the current council composition whose members are already accustomed to working together.

Withey ran against Aitchison in the 2014 municipal elections but lost. Four years later, in the 2018 municipal election, all but two councillors were returned to office by voters. Councillor Det Schumacher retired and his daughter Dione Schumacher was elected in his place, while Councillor Bob Stone who ran for Town and District council lost to Withey. Councillors Jonathan Wiebe and Karin Terziano were acclaimed.

But Withey maintains he’s not in support of a byelection simply because he’s considering the position. “Even if I decide not to run, I still believe that we need a byelection. Period,” he said when contacted by Huntsville Doppler. Withey argued that there are still three years left in this council’s mandate and reiterated that the head of council should be chosen by the voter.

If a byelection is called and Withey does decide to run, he’ll be running against Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano who has confirmed that she’s decided to throw her hat in the ring to officially become Huntsville’s next mayor in whatever process council chooses.

Asked what prompted the decision, Terziano said she’s already fulfilled the role. Terziano took on the mayor’s duties while  Mayor Aitchison was away due to heart surgery as well as when he was on unpaid leave in order to run as the Member of Parliament for this riding.

“Let me put it this way, it’s not something that I was going to do before Scott decided to run, and then when he decided to run I just wanted to see how it all played out but I thought at that time that if he won I might take a stab at running for mayor,” she said, adding that it wasn’t something she thought of doing a year ago when Scott Aitchison was running for his second term, “but having worked with him for the last five years and having a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the Town right now, where we were hoping to go in the next three years, it makes sense for me.”

Terziano said council has a roadmap going forward for the next three years with its strategic plan and fulfilling that plan will be a big task in itself.

When asked what her top three priorities would be as Huntsville mayor, Terziano said staying fiscally responsible and keeping guard over taxpayers’ money would be one of them, she said staying on top of decisions concerning the hospitals would be another, as well as ensuring that all Huntsville residents are considered in any decisions made by council.

“I hate the stuff that I hear on a regular basis about the so-called residents versus the tourists or versus the seasonal [residents]… I think everybody is important and I think that’s a priority for me, that everybody feels like they’re important. I don’t like to hear negative comments where there are local residents who don’t think they’re important to Town council and that the only people that are important to us are the tourists or the seasonal folks. I don’t want anybody in our town to think like that and so I want to address that, and it’s in everything whether it’s housing, whether it’s flooding – whatever it is that makes somebody feel like Town council doesn’t care about them, I’d like to see addressed,” she said.

Asked whether she’d prefer to see the mayor’s position filled through an appointment process or a byelection, Terziano said that’s a discussion she’ll be having with her colleagues around the council table.

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32 Comments

  1. If there is a byelection for Mayor, that will cost $100,000 BUT then if a current Coucillor is elected Mayor then another byelection might be needed to fill that vacancy at another $100,000 cost.

  2. Sounds simple if it were just the two Councillors vying for the spot. The theory starts to unravel as one is a District Councillor and the other a Ward Councillor. Quite different jobs.

  3. Does anyone really want to make this transition so complicated and costly? Simply appoint Ms. Terziano; zero transition; zero cost. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Withey, but i believe he has insufficient experience (even as a Coucillor); and he has stirred up significant opposition with his stance on local healthcare. Spending $100K on a byelection, when the result is virtually predetermined, would be a terrible mismanagement of already scarce resources.
    .
    Perhaps, prior to a final decision, Council could allow any potential Mayoral candidates to submit their names for vetting. If three or more credible candidates were interested, it would at least temper my diatribe.

  4. Peggy Peterson on

    The way I see it, there are three options for replacing Scott,
    Council can appoint someone from Council and Karin Terziano would be our obvious choice ,
    Council could have an election
    or they could appoint the other Candidate who ran against Scott ………………..
    My belief is that the best thing for Huntsville is the appointment of Karen Terziano as Mayor for the remainder of the term .
    This is an obvious and simple and inexpensive choice and I will support her appointment but we will see if they want to play games and spend money ……

    • Elizabeth Rice - Doppler Publisher on

      Council has two legal options at their disposal for replacing a position on council. They can either hold a by-election or appoint a substitute.

        • Elizabeth Rice - Doppler Publisher on

          My understanding is that if they choose the ‘appoint’ route that applications would be open to the general public as well.

  5. Save the Taxpayer’s Dollars .Appoint The Mayor and appoint the Councillor and I have the perfect replacement in mind .She did very Well in the last election and would be a dynamic addition to The Existing Group !

  6. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    I would like to remind you once again that we live in a country where our policies are based on undisputed democratic principles. I believe that the appointment of such an important should be approved by all the people of Huntsville through the holding of new elections.We cannot allow a group of people who have been in power for many years to decide for us. A city or municipality is not a family business.Each person eligible to vote should have the right to submit his or her candidacy.Voters will decide who will be entrusted with this position.The consent of the existing municipal council to appoint a specific person from among its own members is an act of democratic violation and a sanctioning of dictatorship.

  7. Frances Botham on

    An elected position should be just that, the people’s choice. The councillors should not decide who the next mayor will be. Closed door back room decision making is not healthy. It’s the people’s decision. Perhaps some new faces will come forth as well.

    • I agree, election is the only democratic way. I have never missed an election, as it is our right. Otherwise, why do we even take the time to vote if it was always so easy to just appoint someone? I would like to hear some articulation on a platform also, not just status quo because of duration of service as a few have pointed out . Mayor`s position is too important to shrug off with an appointment! There are so many important issues coming up with the direction Huntsville is going and I believe that we the people need to choose our next mayor no matter who, but by vote .

      I will then support the winner. Good luck to the candidates!

  8. I completely understand the democratic process however, Karin Terziano has stepped in when Scott was away for health reasons and as well when Scott was running for the Conservative Party and then again for the election. She has proven herself more than capable. I am sure we can find a better way to spend $100,000.00 in this municipality.

    • I agree Rose. By the time an election can be held, council will have been distracted for months and then almost ready to prep for the next election. Seems a waste of money but also a real distraction from day to day business. Time to refocus on the job at hand: managing the interests of Huntsville residents.

  9. “We cannot allow a group of people who have been in power for many years to decide for us. A city or municipality is not a family business.”

    Unless I am missing something, 12 months or so ago (not quite years) the people of Huntsville fairly elected our current council. How did they suddenly become ‘a group of people in power for many years’ and more surprisingly ‘a family business’. Not everything that happens is a conspiracy. Save the $$ and let council decide.

    • Waldi Frankiewicz on

      Mr. ROB SAUNDERS, I admit that I’ve committed a little tactlessness in defining the time frame too vividly.This resulted from my very cursory analyses of people working for the town of Huntsville now and in the recent past.Thank you for bringing this to my attention.In conclusion to my comment, I say once again that elections must take place. Democracy, like the life of every human being, is an invaluable asset.Thanks to the election, no one will be accused of cronyism or collusion.There is one other very important matter.The people of Huntsville are not looking for an administrator but a leader capable of steering Huntsville in the right direction for the common good of its people.

  10. Elizabeth is dead right: there are two options at law. Simplest and least expensive: Council (annual budget $15M) appoints a Mayor from amongst itself; then, advertise for candidates to fill the councillor vacancy, interview, select, and appoint.
    Of note: District Council (annual budget $125M) appoints the District Chair; and, there appear to have been in excess of a dozen Council or Mayor vacancies in Ontario in this term and ALL have been filled by appointment and not by by-election.
    Continuity, consistency, and longitudinal stability are critical to any organization, and especially to the Town at this particular juncture; and besides, money doesn’t grow on trees!

    • Frances Botham on

      Appointing a district chair is a flaw in our system.
      The buddy system does not represent our democratic right to choose governance.
      The right to choose is a fundamental basic indication of our freedoms.
      Spin it any way you want. Those on council who want to assume the position of mayor should resign and run for that office. Withey and Terziano have indicated interest. I hear that there may be another. Let, we the people, make the decision.

    • So, does the mayor appointment need to be a current councillor or can they appoint from the general public? Your comment makes it sound like the mayor appointment needs to be a councillor.

      • Elizabeth Rice - Doppler Publisher on

        The mayor appointment does not need to be a current councillor. Councillors choose from the list of those who apply. However, it is hard to imagine that they would choose someone from the general public over someone who was recently elected.
        (Oops, sorry. I see now that your question was directed at Tom.)

  11. Definitely an election should be held EVENTUALLY, but not now! Politicians are going nuts these days spending money like drunken sailors. Save the dollars required for an election until the former Mayor’s term ends and THEN hold the election. Let council decide on the replacement mayor for now and Karin Terziano has proven herself on two occasions to be worthy and capable of doing the job for the remaining time of the former Mayor’s term. Stop looking for ways to spend more currently unnecessary money that would be better spent on local needs and let the interest build up on saved dollars.

  12. Frances Botham on

    There seems to be concern about spending.
    I must have missed the outrage expressed about the sale of the train station for two dollars?
    Was there concern expressed about the sale of the Waterloo Centre at a ridiculously low price, considering the cost to build and the huge expenditure by the district to put in the road to the Centre and instal the water and sewer services as well? The balance sheet on this one would make one shudder.
    These are only a few examples.
    What is being said is “let’s not upset the status quo”.
    I get it now.

    • Waldi Frankiewicz on

      Frances Botham, I share your dilemmas. Is there anyone in the world who invests nearly $13 million in building and infrastructure to end up selling it for $3,905,000?.It’s a very shocking case.Another shocking case is the sale of the railway station building, which you mention for just two bucks for three local businessmen..Many residents were upset that the building was sold, as the town had invested over $150,000 to upgrade the storm and sanitary sewers at the station.It indicates the absence of any logic…Today, when crocodile tears are beginning to be shed over the losses we are going to suffer as a result of holding elections, it seems at least ridiculous and surprising.

  13. Terry McCaffery on

    I agree with Mrs. Botham, Mr. Inglis and Mr. Frankiewicz’s position that there should be a bye-election held if there are two or more contenders for the position of Mayor! When you begin putting a price-tag on democracy then you begin to limit it! PS: I too was certainly appalled when the town sold the Waterloo building @ such a fire-sale price! I am so proud that my brother and I threatened to sue the town when then-mayor Claude Doughty and his bobble headed council wanted to build it on the old soccer field directly adjacent to the Lookout! Just imagine the present day scenario if it had been built there! Yikes!!!

  14. Anyone who thinks that she/he would be a better mayor than Ms. Terziano should, perhaps, examine her voting record as Councillor and Deputy/Acting Mayor. She has consistently been on the side of the angels with respect to taking care of the public purse, and an appointment will save an additional $100K. And just for the record, I believe that the Town purchased the railway station for $1 and then re-sold it for $2; a tidy profit of 100%.

    • Mr. Millman: Although I have not yet declared an interest in becoming the next Mayor I do believe I have the appropriate experience to do the job. I am concerned that there is still 3 years left in this term and the Mayor of a town is a very important position. I also believe there are many big issues coming towards us in the next few years that require strong experienced leadership to see us through. Primarily, the local Hospital issue.
      As for the cost of the by-election, the number representing the cost has moved a few times since last Spring. It should be noted that the largest portion of this expense is “staff time” meaning current employees will be seconded to this project. There’s no ‘real’ actual money being spent, it’s existing staff salaries being apportioned to the project. A relevant question to ask would be, what’s the cost of the appointment process? I can guarantee it’s not zero. Again, staff time will be apportioned to this process.
      All this being said, democracy is not free. I strongly believe the voting public must decide on their next leader. As a sitting councillor I don’t believe it’s my mandate to choose the person who will lead our community from behind closed doors, even if the Municipal Act allows me to.

  15. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    TIM WITHEY I’ve been waiting more than 3 weeks for your opinion on this matter.On October 4, I mentioned you in my commentary that during the last election you were ranked second with 3081 votes in your account. More than 3000 Huntsville residents have trusted you by casting their votes for your candidacy.This is a clear indication that these people believed you would be the leader who would lead Huntsville in the right direction. I have on my list your name and the name of our lovely Mrs. Frances Botham…if she decides to run for election. Mrs. Frances Botham has worked for over 25 years in her shop, which has already become the showpiece of Huntsville. She’s published some beautiful books. The most important is her personality, characterized by perseverance and steadfastness in the pursuit of the implementation of her plans.She is a woman who fulfills all the conditions to be entrusted with such an honorable and responsible function.

    • Frances Botham on

      Thank you for your kind words. I ran for the position of mayor a number of years ago.it was an ugly example of what our electoral system can be. I will not run again. However, I appreciate your comments very much.

  16. Install Ms. Terziano as Mayor for free.
    Install Ms. Terziano as Mayor for $100,000.
    Take your pick people.
    Don’t go judging Karin until you know who she is and when she worked at the Arena away back when and did pretty much a darned good job.
    Egad! Save the big bucks and wait and see if you aren’t singing this little lady’s praises when she runs for a second term as Her Honor in 3 years. She’s good – really.

  17. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    None of the previous speakers have judged and are not judging Ms Terziano.If Ms Terziano does her job well and honestly, I consider it unreasonable to judge her.Everyone who carries out any work commits himself/herself voluntarily to do it in accordance with the principles of work ethics.If Ms Terziano retains these principles by doing the work entrusted to her it shows that she is a good employee however, the residents of Huntsville are not looking for a person to take up only the office of mayor. They’re looking for a leader of a true leader to lead Huntsville in the right direction.A leader who can gather all opponents and supporters around him/her.By way of free and open elections, we have a chance to choose such a leader…

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