The Ward 1 seat left vacant by the resignation of Scott Hahn will be filled by appointment, Woolwich councillors decided this week.
An application process will be launched, with interested members of the public invited to submit their résumés. The deadline is February 16.
In going that route, council rejected both holding a special election and appointing a runner-up from the 2014 election, the two other options available.
Elmira resident Dan Holt, who finished third in the 2014 municipal election, has already expressed interest in the position. Meeting Tuesday night, council spurned calls to simply put Holt in the position, opting instead for a wider application process open to all.
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Holt garnered 1,036 votes in the six-person race for the two Ward 1 seats. Hahn was first with 1,313 and Patrick Merlihan had 1,300 to claim spots at the council chamber.
In an interview, the fourth-place finisher, Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach, said he won’t be stepping forward, suggesting instead that the seat should go to Holt, the first runner-up in the last election.
Allan Poffenroth, the incumbent who lost the seat in 2014 after taking 968 votes, died the following year in a traffic accident. Former councillor Ruby Weber, who got 840 votes, said she wouldn’t be putting her name into the hat barring a call for someone to serve on an interim basis.
“Only if they are looking for someone with experience who will not be running in October,” she said in an email.
As councillors met January 30, Holt said appointing him to fill the vacancy would be the simplest and most democratic option.
“Otherwise … you would be saying that your five votes are worth more than over a thousand votes from the electorate,” he told councillors.
Two other residents, however, pushed for an open application process, both expressing an interest in the job.
Julie-Anne Herteis was a Ward 1 councillor from 2010 to 2014 who declined to run in the last election because of plans to move out of the community, though they ultimately didn’t materialize.
“You want someone who’s qualified and experienced, someone who can step in with little or no training,” she said. “Let’s get the right person for the job.
Jacqueline Hanley also made a pitch for the seat, saying a replacement for Hahn should be someone looking forward to the 2018 election in the fall.
In a recorded vote, Coun. Mark Bauman and Coun. Patrick Merlihan, leaning towards appointing Holt, were matched by colleagues Murray Martin and Larry Shantz, who favoured an open process. Mayor Sandy Shantz cast the tie-breaking vote in favour of a wider search. “Dr. Holt, your application will certainly be included,” she said. “It behoves us to look at all the people interested.”
Township clerk Val Hummel noted the application process was used previously when a councillor, Don Downie, resigned in 1985, while the mayor’s chair was filled through a byelection that same year when Ken Seiling left to become Waterloo Region Chairman.
Information about the position and application process is available on the township website, www.woolwich.ca.
Applications must be filed in person by 5 p.m. on February 16, said Hummel, adding the township has until March 19 to fill the vacancy.