April 12th, 2024

More signatures needed for future council runs


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 13, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council on Tuesday gave second and third readings to a bylaw which will increase the number of signatures needed for people running for council and mayor.

Council voted by a 6-3 margin on both readings.

A year ago on March 7, city council adopted a resolution put forward by councillor Ryan Parker in his then-capacity of deputy mayor, calling on changes to Bylaw 5803 which would increase the number of eligible signatures for council hopes to 50 and to 100 for those seeking the office of mayor.

The vote to amend the bylaw last March was passed by a slim 5-4 majority with mayor Blaine Hyggen along with Parker, Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, John Middleton-Hope and Nick Paladino in favour. On Tuesday, deputy mayor Mark Campbell agreed with them. Opposed were councillors Rajko Dodic, Belinda Crowson and Jeff Carlson.

Hyggen pointed that Lethbridge has the lowest required signatures in the province as he stated his support for the motion.

Carlson said his thinking has not changed since the last vote, noting “anything that would impede anyone from putting their name forward for public office is detrimental to democracy.”

Dodic said “even if one person is not able to meet the threshold we are saying because you can’t get sufficient signatures you can’t run, and to me that is not a good way of doing democratic business.”

Parker said “it’s incumbent upon you to get at least that many more signatures – 50 to a hundred – to make it valid. I think it shows your seriousness, it shows you’re willing to put some time into it and put some time into a civic election. I think it’s the least we can ask of people who are running so I will be supporting this.”

Crowson was opposed, stating “I do not want to stop public engagement in any way and I would like to get back to the five signatures it used to be.”

Schmidt-Rempel went back to her original argument that the U of L students union election require 10 signatures and Lethbridge College 15 for its student association.

She said both offices should warrant 50 or 100.

“Getting more than five signatures is a way of creating public engagement and the lack of public engagement is something many of us at this table have had concerns about. And I would say if you’re collecting names at a bar, which is easy enough to do, you’re probably engage with those people and they’re likely to engage with you back.

“If we aren’t engaging any more than five people to sign our paperwork how can we expect voters to come out for an election and if we as candidates aren’t engaging no more than five people to sign our paperwork, how can residents trust to engage them on other issues?,” the councillor asked.

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