By Jenn Watt
Nov. 22, 2016
Back in April of 2014, the Echo reported that Andrea Roberts would be joining the race for deputy-reeve of Dysart et al. The field had two candidates: Roberts, a well-liked councillor, and Dennis Casey, a well-liked councillor.
Town was abuzz at the time that no matter which way the election went, we would be losing someone good. In the end, Roberts won by 600 votes and has served as our deputy-reeve.
On Monday, Dysart et al council voted to appoint Dennis Casey as councillor for Ward 2 replacing Derek Knowles, who is moving out of the area.
There wasn’t a committee struck to consider applications for the position. In fact, on Monday, discussion started with a decision on whether to have a byelection or appoint. They decided not to hold a byelection, which would have cost about $14,000.
From there, Casey’s name was raised, his qualifications outlined, and council unanimously voted “yes.”
Casey will do an excellent job and, in my opinion, is the right person for the position. He ran in the last election receiving 2,438 votes from across the municipality – a strong showing of support. He has also represented Ward 2 in the past and knows the issues. And he is an active, passionate advocate for the Highlands.
However, there is an issue with transparency in this appointment. While it is council’s prerogative under the Municipal Act to choose replacements for councillors who vacate their seats, a more open nomination process would have allowed discussion on potential nominees and clarity in how Casey came to be the name put forward on Monday by Reeve Murray Fearrey.
It’s important to stress that council is allowed to choose replacements. What happened on Monday is entirely within their ability under the Municipal Act.
But transparency matters. Council should be seen as open to suggestions and to showing how they narrowed the field to choose a councillor to represent the public. Since there was no byelection, there should at least have been a formal, advertised opportunity to send in nomination packages.
There is no doubt that Casey will do a good job in his role on council.
The choice was good.
The process, not so much.