Six candidates apply for vacant Verner seat


Six residents have thrown their hat in the ring to be appointed as the next councillor for Ward 7, a seat that sat vacant for nearly two years thanks to council’s infighting. 

Melissa Cyr, Larry Morin, Fernand Pellerin, Jamie Restoule, Christine Riberdy and Normand Roberge all applied to fill the vacant Verner seat. Restoule and Roberge are previous West Nipissing council members, both defeated during the last election, with Roberge having held the Ward 7 seat and Restoule, the Ward 4 seat (Sturgeon Falls).

West Nipissing Council will hold a special meeting to conduct interviews with all the potential candidates on June 9 starting at 6 p.m.

A memo from the Minister of Municipal Affairs’ appointed facilitator Nigel Bellchamber outlining the interview process is included with the June 9 agenda. In it, Bellchamber suggests that each candidate should be interviewed for 15 minutes, in a random order selected by him so as not to provide any positional advantage. Candidates will also receive a copy of the questions at the beginning of the meeting and council will take a five-minute break after adopting the procedures, so each applicant has a chance to review them.

Following interviews, council will have the option to discuss the candidates at that meeting or defer to a later date. A vote can take place formally or informally among council, as long as it is not by secret ballot, which is outlawed by the Municipal Act. Ultimately, whoever council chooses will need to be appointed by resolution at an open meeting of council prior to the June 30 deadline. 

Bellchamber says if there’s still a stalemate over the appointment after that, he “will speak to each member of Council individually to find a possible solution in compliance with the Act before June 30th and also to inform my report to the Minister.”

The choice to open the appointment process to applications was made when council had their first meeting with Bellchamber on May 26. For those who have followed council over the past few years, it was refreshing to see this dysfunctional group meet with an adult in the room. 

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