McLennan town councillor expected to lose his position
McLennan’s next mayoral hopeful will not get the opportunity to hold the reins following the next municipal election in 2013.
Ray Johnson, deputy-mayor for the Town of McLennan, will have to relinquish his current position in the near future as a result of an upcomign change of residency from the town to a rural setting within the Municipal District of Smoky River 130.
“When I move out of town, my understanding of provincial regulations under the Municipal Government Act is that I’m disqualified as a town councillor,” Johnson explained at town council’s last meeting held Sept. 10.
Johnson’s pending resignation or disqualification as a municipal councillor is supported by legislative guidelines in both the Local Authorities Election Act and the Municipal Government Act.
Section 174 (1)(b) of the Municipal Government Act states “A councillor is disqualified from council of the councillor ceases to be eligible for nomination as a candidate under the Local Authorities Act,” while Section 175 (1) stipulates that “A councillor that is disqualified must resign immediately.”
Section 48 (1)(b) of the Local Authorities Act, meanwhile, states that “the residence of a person is the place where the person lives and sleeps and to which, when the person is absent, the person intends to return.”
Johnson’s departure as a councillor in McLennan will result in a vacancy on town council.
Council has yet to decide whether or not to fill the vacancy despite a suggestion by Mayor Don Regier to continue with six elected officials on council leading up to the 2013 municipal election.
“I believe the best option would be not to hold a by-election to fill the vacant position,” said Mayor Regier.
The Town of McLennan is not obligated to hold a by-election. Section 162 of the Municipal Government Act pertaining to the vacancy of a councillor states “A council must hold a by-election to fill a vacancy on council unless: (b) the council consists of six or more councillors and the vacancy occurs (i) in the 18 months before a general election and there is only one vacancy.”
Johnson, along with his wife, Sharon, recently purchased a quarter section of land west of McLennan on Range Road 201.
The couple hopes to be living in their newly built modular home by the end of September.
Johnson is currently serving his first term on McLennan town council after being successfully elected in the 2010 municipal election.
While he hasn't officially stepped down to date, he realizes the writing's pretty much on the wall.
“I have immensely enjoyed my time on council and the various committees where I represented the interests of the town," Johnson tells the Express.
"I've always believed that active participation in local government is the responsibility of all citizens."
Unfortunately, the rules of participation in town council prohibit me from continuing my tenure once I move my primary residence out of town at the end of the month."
Johnson says he will continue to actively contribute to the Chamber of commerce as president prior to thanking residents for their support.
"I will continue to support McLennan in whatever capacity I find myself in."
Mayor Regier, meanwhile, acknowledged the valuable contributions of Johnson on town council and says it remains unclear at this time how the present situation will unfold.
"In my view, council should only proceed with the process of disqualification when there is evidence the residency requirement is not being met," he says, adding the only other alternative is for Coun. Johnson to submit his resignation.
"This would remove the onus on council or administration to react to the situation."
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