Former municipal councillor Jeremy Seguin resigned from West Nipissing Council on July 18, 2020. Over one year later, his seat remains vacant and the issues he pointed to upon his departure are nowhere closer to being resolved.
The representative for Verner for almost two years before he stepped down, Seguin says he’s not surprised that the Ward 7 seat remains vacant in his absence: constant impasses at council were one of the reasons he resigned in the first place.
“I did have to tie-break quite a bit when I was sitting in council… especially for important matters (OPP being one of these),” he says. “Coming in as a rookie council member, there is a certain expectation that leadership and those with experience would help navigate certain situations, but that was not what I lived through. I was left in a position that gave me more authority (almost autocratic), which we should never see in municipal politics.”
With Seguin no longer there to act as that tiebreaker, council votes regularly end in four-four deadlocks. That includes the decision of whether the vacant Verner seat will be filled by appointment or by-election. On one side Councillors Chris Fisher, Dan Roveda, Rolly Larabie and Leo Mallette wanted an appointment, specifically runner-up Norm Roberge to fill the seat. On the other side, Mayor Joanne Savage and Councillors Yvon Duhaime, Lise Sénécal and Denis Sénécal want to hold a by-election.
Seguin says he expressed no wishes on how his seat would be filled when he left and he still has no preference. “At first, I had no issue with replacing me with Norm Roberge as he’s been in the seat historically and I saw leadership skills in him when he accepted to mentor me after I won in the last election. He displayed professionalism and neutrality, which is something that I look for in my elected officials,” he says. “As time went on, other very competent people displayed a willingness to represent Ward 7. At this point in time, I have no preference between holding a by-election (but it must be done very soon) or appointment. Personally, I just want an unbiased representation at the table due to the fact that Verner has not been represented in over a year now, and it shows… the response time for certain situations have been much longer than it should be.”