Candidate barred from bid for office
A FAILED mayoral candidate has missed the final deadline to file financial disclosure statements outlining how much money he spent in last November’s municipal election.
As a result, Merv Ritchie, who ran alongside four others for the city’s top elected post, can’t run in any local government by-election between now and 2014 or in the next formal local government elections in 2014.
Under the Local Government Act, candidates who stand for local government office must disclose financial information pertaining to their campaign.
This includes money received, gifts received, or donations in kind which are goods or services given with their value quantified. The value of any discounts for goods and services must be quantified and included as well.
Financial disclosure also includes spendings, and involves listing in detail where and on what money was spent.
The Local Government Act states that a candidate must file this information within 90 days of the election date, which in Terrace fell on March 19, 2012.
After this, there is a late filling period of up to thirty days when a candidate can file and pay a fine of $500.
Failing this, a candidate is disqualified. As Ritchie was not elected for public office, the penalty includes disqualification from future election for a determined time period.
Should a candidate elected for office fail to file, he or she would be disqualified and a by-election would be held for whatever seat is held by that person.
The only candidates not required to file under the Municipal Election Act are those who have a court order giving them permission.
Candidates in Terrace were sent reminder letters about filing dates and information.
“Letters did go out to all candidates, and a reminder letter went out to the addresses that we provided on the nomination papers,” said city official Heather Nunn.
Ritchie’s situation was raised at the April 23 council meeting by city councillor Bruce Bidgood who wondered if Ritchie actually received the letter.
“I’m wondering if the candidate was aware or not,” he said. “This particular candidate moved during the course of his campaign.”
Nunn responded she did not receive any mail returned, which would have indicated to her a change in address.
Another councillor, Brian Downie, said it’s clear when picking up nomination packages that information must be filed. “The candidate has a responsibility to follow the rules as set out,” he said.
Ultimately, now that the second filling deadline has passed the City of Terrace has no responsibility in the matter other than reporting it to the appropriate ministry.