Updated: This story originally ran in print in the January 20, 2022 edition. Important updated information has been included.
For those city residents and would-be politicians wanting to throw their hats in the ring, municipal election day in Prince Rupert can be marked on the calendar as Oct. 15, according to the BC elections website.
Positions for a mayor, six city councillors, and six school district trustees will be listed on the ballot for the autumn change of offices.
Nominations for potentials are open for a ten-day window starting 46 days before voting day, so this year Aug. 30, and then will close on Sept. 9. Hopefuls have until Sept. 16 to change their minds or withdraw their nomination if they need to.
Elections are governed by legislation, the main piece being the Local Government Act RSBC 2015, which sets out the legal requirements for holding elections, candidate qualifications, and voter requirements.
With Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain announcing on Jan. 10 that he will not seek a third term in office, candidates will be required to fill the leadership chair. Former Prince Rupert mayor herb Pond publically announced on July 18 his intent to seek the mayorship.
City councillor Blair Mirau declared in February he was not running for a third term due to family commitments.
To run for any of the 13 positions in the next municipal referendum, candidates must be 18-years old, Canadian citizens, residents of B.C. for more than six months immediately before the relevant time, and not be disqualified under the Act from voting in B.C. or being nominated, elected or holding office.
Participants in the elections may not be nominated for more than one position and thus cannot be voted into more than one position. So, those wanting to be mayor can not run for that position and for a city councillor position as a “backup”. The same rule applies when running for the city council and the school board – potentials are not permitted to run for both.
To run for office in a municipal election, you must be nominated by at least 10 eligible electors. An update on June 27, of the Municipal Elections Bylaw, increased the minimum number of nominators from two to 10. For school board trustees, the number remains at a minimum of two.
Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the City of Prince Rupert, said the Local Government Act provides all sorts of background and information on local elections.
“An elector according to our bylaw is: “Elector means a resident elector or property elector of the jurisdiction as defined under the Local Government Act,” Stewart told The Northern View, in Jan. “… key takeaways — you must live in Prince Rupert and be over 18, or be a property-owning elector – which is defined in the legislation.”
On the selection day, voters in Prince Rupert usually attend the ballot boxes at Jim Ciccone Civic Centre or advance polls at City Hall. Stewart said that new voting bylaws would be enacted by the city council this year to allow any changes and COVID-19 accommodation. (Update: The bylaws were enacted on June 27, 2022)
Once the nomination period for candidates has closed, the chief electoral officer is obligated to announce the names of all candidates running for positions. Under the legislation, this must happen immediately at the close of nominations.
If there are not enough candidates to fill the required positions, the nomination period will be extended for three days to allow further nominations. In this circumstance, the extended deadline will be Monday, Sept. 12, at 4 p.m.
In a twist, during the last municipal election period, no challengers ran against Mayor Lee Brain. In this circumstance, Brain was “acclaimed” as mayor and not “voted” into the position.
In the situation there are still not enough candidates after the extension, then after the election, City Council will have 30 days from their first meeting to appoint someone to the vacant seats.