The city council has voted to appoint John Fyfe-Millar as councilor for the 13th district of London, Ontario, but will take a different approach when it comes to filling the 6th district.
Tuesday’s council meeting focused largely on next steps for the two districts, which were left vacant after their former councilors took over roles that would not allow them to continue serving on the council.
For District 6, Phil Squire had been appointed to the Board of Consent and Capacity, a provincial court that handles matters related to medical consent.
For the 13th District, Arielle Kayabaga ran a successful federal campaign that saw her elected as Member of Parliament by London West.
While Kayabaga had been on leave since her campaign began and it was known that a victory would see her leave the council, Squire’s departure came as a shock as she only learned of her appointment to the board in early October before reporting the council days. later.
The committee endorses the appointment to fill the vacancy of the 13th district of London, Ontario
The first to be discussed was Hall 13.
Two weeks earlier, the corporate services committee had endorsed the appointment of Fyfe-Millar, Kayabaga’s finalist in the 2018 London election, to the vacant position.
During Tuesday’s meeting, a motion by Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer and Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy sought to refer the discussion to a future policy and strategic priorities committee meeting. His intention was to allow the council to fill the vacancies of both districts at the same time and in the same way.
“While attending this meeting, several residents said, ‘Don’t bother trying to convince people, it’s obvious what’s going to happen,’ and I told them I’ll try one more time,” Helmer said.
“We can take our time and do this the same way for both positions, or we can hurry up and just hang our heads and be very stubborn about it.”
“If we get it right, then we can fill these two vacancies … in mid-November,” added Cassidy.
Supporters of the motion wanted the council to pause before deciding on vacancies in the ward.
Mayor Ed Holder disagreed with delaying the discussion, but agreed with the desire to fill both vacancies at the same time and in the same way.
He added that if the council decided to appoint Fyfe-Millar to District 13, he would support the appointment of Mike Bloxam to District 6, who was Squire’s runner-up in the 2018 election.
Cassidy and Helmer’s motion was ultimately rejected by a vote of 6-7, which means it failed to gain sufficient support.
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What followed was nearly 45 minutes of councilors going back and forth over whether or not to appoint Fyfe-Millar as the next councilor for London’s 13th Ward.
Helmer said it was a “tremendous mistake” to only consider Fyfe-Millar for the seat because he finished second behind Kayabaga in the election.
“Especially when we have no idea if this person wants to run again in 2022, in which case they would have an unearned advantage, which we would give them by appointing them,” Helmer said, expressing concern shared by his peers. councilors who shared their opinion on the matter.
“Honestly, I have never been so disappointed. I said when I left the deputy mayor’s chair: ‘I think the best is yet to come for our council.’ I was wrong.”
Cassidy took note of the time since the 2018 election and asked her colleagues if voters in District 13 “would still have chosen that person as their second choice.”
“We have every reason to believe that people would have changed their minds,” Cassidy said.
“In District 5, there was a close election. Since that election, the second-place candidate has been accused by the Ontario Provincial Police of violating the Municipal Elections Act in the last election. So, would this council endorse that runner-up to sit in District 5 if he had to leave the position for any reason? “
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Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan said District 13 had a close election between Kayabaga and Fyfe-Millar, which he considers important to consider when considering a second place to fill a vacant seat.
He also praised Fyfe-Millar as someone “experienced and approachable,” citing his work on city boards and commissions.
“To me, there are a lot of things that point to this person not just as someone who had a tight election result, but as someone who is really ready to go and genuinely cares about downtown,” Morgan said.
“Whether or not he runs in the next election is completely up to him, in my opinion. We cannot force anyone to run or not to run. “
Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis added that London was in a unique position to have access to classified ballot data from the 2018 elections that could provide information on the second choice of voters.
“When we think about that data point in time, it was not only close, but 26 percent of Coun. Kayabaga voters also placed Mr. Fyfe-Millar on their ballot, ”Lewis said, adding that re-election wishes should not rule out an appointee.
“After three terms of councilors in District 13 seeking to leave for higher office, voters in that district may want an opportunity to give back someone who wants to stay and continue to do the job.”
The council voted 7-6 to appoint Fyfe-Millar to District 13.
Those who voted in favor included Mayor Ed Holder, Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan, Ward 1 Coun. Michael van Holst, District 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis, District 8 Coun. Steve Lehman, District 10 Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen and Ward 14 Coun. Steve Hillier.
The new District 13 councilman will be sworn in on Wednesday.
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The discussion on the next steps for District 6 was much shorter and began with an amendment from Helmer that sought to forward the talk to a future meeting, similar to what he and Cassidy proposed for District 13.
The amendment would implement an application process that requires applicants to write a couple of written statements, one explaining why they want to represent District 6 and another sharing their experience and qualifications.
Applicants will also need to indicate whether or not they plan to seek reelection, although the amendment emphasizes that the council cannot prevent someone from running.
The amendment passed by a vote of 12 to 1, with Holder as his only opponent.
The matter will now be discussed at a future meeting of the policy and strategic priorities committee.
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