Hamilton by-election vote ‘undemocratic’

By 
  • March 28, 2012

Majority rules at Hamilton’s Catholic school board as five of eight trustees voted to fill the Ward 6 vacancy by appointment instead of a by-election despite almost three years remaining in the term.

Chairperson Patrick Daly sighted both expense, which could exceed $100,000, and low voter turnout as reasons for the decision.

“We have to pay 100 per cent of that cost, there is no funding for that and especially in difficult budgetary times that’s a great deal of money and funds that we don’t have available,” said Daly, appointed a trusted after his father’s sudden death in 1985.

“A second reason is that historically the voter turn out for a by-election for trustees is very low,”

Daly referenced a recent Toronto by-election with only 11 per cent voter turnout.

But that doesn’t sit well with Ward 9, 10 and 11 trustee Paul DiFrancesco. “The rater-payers of Ward 6 should have representation they want not what eight of us decide,” said DiFrancesco. “If a thousand people voted it would have more credibility.”

Trustee Mark Valvasori (Wards 1 and 2) said cost doesn’t justify this “undemocratic” process.

“Can you put a price on democracy? Philosophically speaking, I don’t think you can put a price on democracy,” said Valvasori whose brother John (Ward 8) also supported a by-election.

Daly said that, over the past 30 years, he can recall five trustee vacancies being filled by appointment. “It is not that unusual,” he said.

On April 10 trustees will hear presentations from eligible applicants, then cast silent ballots until one person captures the majority.

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