A Sayward all candidates meeting that was scheduled for Nov.7 ahead of the byelection was cancelled partially because four out of five candidates expressed concerns about the lack of proper COVID-19 safety provisions.
A resident’s group that organized the meeting for the candidates at the Kelsey centre sent out notices to each of the candidates via Canada Post.
Only one candidate (mayoral) agreed to attend, leading to the meeting being cancelled.
Notice of the meeting was also posted in Sayward’s newsletter by council member Bill Ives, where the number of attendees was limited to 50.
Although not an official meeting organized by the council, Sayward’s acting mayor Norm Kirschner confirmed that the meeting was cancelled.
In response to the meeting notice, mayoral candidate Joyce Ellis and council candidates Sue Poulsen, Tom Tinsley and Mike Marsh sent a letter with their reason for not wanting to attend the meeting. The letter was also posted on a Sayward social media group.
Having received a notice via the mail, the four candidates said that it failed to mention any details about the hosting organizers, moderator, agenda or format for asking questions. They also said that they were not given the opportunity to say if they were available to attend at the stated date and time on the notice.
“The recent increase in COVID-19 pandemic cases has guidelines stating to restrict the size of gathering. This meeting is frivolous and unsafe in an enclosed space at this time,” read the statement.
The four candidates also said that since they are in the vulnerable at-risk age bracket, the organizers should arrange for a virtual meeting via Zoom.
Former councillor and acting mayor Ellis – who resigned from council in March – is one of two running for mayor. The second candidate is Mark Baker. The candidates will be elected for the balance of the term ending in Oct. 2022.
The election is also being held for voters to elect two councillors following multiple resignations of Sayward council members. Elected mayor John MacDonald resigned on March 13. This was followed by Ellis’ resignation as acting mayor after a week.
The latest resignation was Ives’ in September with an effective date of Nov.2o. After Ellis, Ives briefly filled in for acting mayor until he was replaced by Kirschner in June.
Sayward’s byelection is set for Nov. 21. Once elected, the new council members will be sworn in on Nov. 31.
The village has also hired a new chief administration officer, Ann MacDonald, who will join on Nov.30.