Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit August 14, 2013 - 7:25 am

Iqaluit councillor to be chosen in byelection Oct. 28

Poll to coincide with territorial election

PETER VARGA
A byelection will decide who will take an empty seat on Iqaluit city council, lower left, which has been vacant since the late Jimmy Kilabuk resigned April 9. (FILE PHOTO)
A byelection will decide who will take an empty seat on Iqaluit city council, lower left, which has been vacant since the late Jimmy Kilabuk resigned April 9. (FILE PHOTO)

The City of Iqaluit has laid the groundwork for a byelection to fill an empty seat on city council, vacated when the late Jimmy Kilabuk resigned from council on April 9.

The election would take place at the same time as the territorial election scheduled for Oct. 28.

Council approved the appointment of Kirt Ejesiak as chief municipal electoral officer at its regular meeting Aug. 13, the first step in a plan to link the byelection with the territorial election.

Holding the byelection on the same day as Nunavut election will allow the city to save on costs, because voters will be able to vote in the two elections at the same time — and at the same polling stations.

Mayor John Graham said city administrators estimated that holding the byelection on the same date, Oct. 28, would cost the city about $39,000, instead of the usual $90,000 cost of a municipal election.

Ejesiak served as chief electoral officer on the last municipal election. His appointment “had to be done here tonight,” Graham told council at the meeting, because the occasion marked “the absolute last time” that the city could appoint a chief electoral officer in time to coincide with the territorial election.

John Hussey, the city’s chief administrative officer, created the proposal to appoint the officer after council directed him to do so at a previous council meeting held July 24.

Councillors passed the motion at the Aug. 13 meeting with only one vote against. Coun. Joanesie Akumalik opposed the move, pointing to byelection costs.

“I will not go along with this. You know my comments on that,” said Akumalik, referring to comments made at the July 24 meeting when council discussed how to fill the council seat.

At that meeting Akumalik pointed to the costs of an election, and said council “would be better off if we appointed someone,” which would cost nothing. Election costs on their own are already enough to pay a councillor’s salary, he added.

Other councillors at the July 24 meeting said the decision should be put to residents of Iqaluit, in keeping with precedent, and the idea that “our authority as councillors come from our election by the people,” as Coun. Mark Morrissey put it.

Council also supported the plan to combine the by-election with the 2013 territorial election to save on costs, as outlined in Hussey’s request for decision.

A new councillor elected to take Kilabuk’s former seat will have two years to serve on council. Kilabuk died April 19, shortly after resigning his seat.  The former mayor was re-elected as councillor in the last election, Oct. 15, 2012, but never attended meetings in person since then, due to illness.

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