Iqaluit city council opts to put out call for candidates to fill vacant seat
Feb. 13 tentatively scheduled for councillors to hear from candidates
The process is underway to fill a seat on Iqaluit city council that has been vacant since shortly after the Oct. 23 municipal election.
Council approved a motion during Tuesday’s council meeting, put forward by Coun. Romeyn Stevenson, to launch a call for candidates.
Deputy Mayor Kim Smith declared a conflict of interest and left the council chambers while the matter was discussed.
She explained her decision to declare the conflict in a message to Nunatsiaq News, saying she is in a relationship with one of the candidates from the last municipal election.
“Though it is not a financial conflict, nor does it actually violate the Conflict of Interest Act, I felt it best to abstain from any discussion or vote on the item,” she said.
Under the Nunavut Elections Act, municipalities do not hold byelections to fill vacant council seats. Instead, they can either choose from candidates who were not elected in the last election or from eligible applicants.
City council asked municipal staff in November to develop a policy for appointing members to fill vacancies on council. Administration presented a policy in December, but council sent it back and deferred its decision on filling the vacant seat, criticizing the policy for not being prescriptive enough.
At the time, Stevenson indicated he wanted the city’s policy to specify that council should always put out a call for candidates, not pick the runner-up from the last election.
Council came back this week with a new policy — which retains the option to pick the runner-up — but council still had some issues with the details.
“I’m concerned about being too prescriptive with times,” said Stevenson, referring to the requirement for council to have a meeting between seven and 21 days after the deadline, in cases where council opts to hold a call for candidates.
“I know that administration sometimes needs flexibility.”
Sheppard echoed the concern, citing Christmas as a time when it can be hard to meet requirements like these.
Council sent the policy back to administration again, for more review.
The runner-up in the October election was Lewis Falkiner MacKay, who received 525 votes compared to Anawak’s 635.
He told Nunatsiaq News in November he’d be “happy” to fill the seat if asked.
City spokesperson Aleksey Cameron said the city has set a tentative Feb. 5 deadline for candidates to apply for the vacant seat, and Feb. 13 for when candidates will present themselves before council.
She said those dates could be changed if chief administrative officer Steve England and staff require more time for the process.
The city will issue a public service announcement about the dates and details “in the coming days,” Cameron said in an email.
The council seat has been vacant since Jack Anawak, who was elected in October, resigned Nov. 6 after being charged with impaired driving.
Anawak is scheduled to make a first appearance on that charge in court Thursday.