With the by-election for the vacant seat in Ward 2 just a few weeks away, some of the candidates have called out sitting councillor Susan Myers for going on record and endorsing Sandra Hollingsworth for the seat.
In a printed brochure from Hollingsworth, Myers is quoted endorsing the candidate for the seat. Others accuse Myers of soliciting votes door to door. Myers denies that accusation.
“I haven’t done anything wrong”, Myers told SaultOnline.com, “I was very open at the start of her campaign and discussed it with a few of the candidates”
Myers and Hollingsworth are long-time friends and the Myers family have known the Hollingsworth’s for decades, said Myers.
That isn’t sitting well with a few of the other candidates in the race however.
“It has now come to my attention that Ward 2 Councillor Susan Myers has been publicly endorsing and soliciting support for her friend and candidate of choice, Sandra Hollingsworth. I am absolutely disgusted and offended to learn that this has been occurring.” said Andy Martens.
David Poluck added, “I can understand the wanting to support a friend in an election and commend the loyalty, but am sadly disappointed that as a sitting Councillor for the same ward in the by-election has alienated all other candidates not only during this by-election but sullies the trust that I believe should exist between ward mates. In my opinion, no sitting Councillor should be openly endorsing one candidate or another. I would think that ethically an elected official should not provide any preferential treatment to individuals or groups, nor provide assistance other than that given in the ordinary course of their public duties as outlined in the Municipal Act.”
Myers defends her actions stating that she isn’t breaking any rules or regulations surrounding the February 1 by-election. “Even though I endorse Sandra, that doesn’t mean I don’t think any of the other candidates can’t do the job. They are all capable of doing the job.” Myers said. City Clerk Malcolm White confirms “There are no provisions in the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 or associated regulations that pertain to the political endorsement of candidates by another person, whomever they may be.”
Perhaps the most irritated by Myers is Ron Schinners, “In my opinion, Councillor Myers, is an elected official entrusted with the responsibility of representing her constituency with honesty, accountability and transparency. By publicly endorsing and going so far as to solicit support for her personal friend, Sandra Hollingsworth, she has demonstrated her lack of judgement, fairness, accountability and most importantly has violated public trust.” Schinners said in a letter to SaultOnline.com about the matter.
Schinners is also calling for the resignation of her seat at council. “I am demanding the immediate resignation of Ward 2 City Councillor Susan Myers. Her conduct throughout this by-election has been unprofessional, unethical and she has violated public trust by attempting to influence the outcome of this by-election.” said Schinners. “At the end of the day, the voters must decide which is worse; Councillor Susan Myers endorsing a candidate of her choice, or Sandra Hollingsworth a candidate who has chosen to accept this endorsement failing to recognize the implications of such a decision? I believe they are both cut from the same cloth.”
Schinners added, Councillor Myers has acknowledged that she and the Hollingsworth family have been very close friends for many years. From my understanding, the Hollingsworth family have been Susan Myers largest financial contributors in every municipal election. As a result Susan Myers has gained financially by using their money to secure a position on council. She is now repaying her debt to the Hollingsworth family by endorsing one of their own.
First time candidate Les Weeks said, “Surprised to learn of this ‘endorsement’. The campaign is still underway and it is my intention to conduct myself in an accountable and transparent manner. Knocking on doors, working the phones and meeting my Ward 2 neighbours is what I’m concentrating on at this time and the voters will make the ultimate decision.”
Other candidates in the race, Susan Milne, John Dukes, Jody Curran and Luke Dufour did not respond. Sandra Hollingsworth was also asked for comment but failed to get back to SaultOnline.com.
The Ward 2 seat was left vacant when Terry Sheehan left council after winning the M.P. seat for the Sault in the October Federal Election.