In a move to address the void left by the departure of former Kitchener Ward 10 City Councillor Aislinn Clancy, Kitchener Council has given the nod to the appointment of Stephanie Stretch to fill the vacant seat in Ward 10.
Stretch, who emerged as the runner-up in the 2022 Municipal Election for Ward 10, will soon be formally invited to accept the responsibilities of the role.
Clancy defeated Stretch, by over 110 votes in the 2022 election. 1,765 votes to 1650 votes respectively.
According to staff information, the cost of the by-election would set the City back $97,000.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, said that while looking at the cost of holding a by-election, "One can argue that democracy has a cost and we have to prepare to pay for that cost and I'm certianly prepared to do that.
"But there is clearly a strong second candidate in this instance." Vrbanovic added, "It's a reasonable logical conclusion." Vrbanovic said that there was no right or wrong answer to this, and agreed that there are different viewpoints.
Ward 4 Councillor Christine Michaud agree with the Mayors words, "It should be a democratic process, and I do believe that this somewhat a democratic process - because we are listening to the constituents."
Ward 3 Councillor Jason Deneault thought was cautious in his words during the Finance and Corporate Services Committee, "$97,000 is alot of money for a election, but at the end of the day you cannot, and I think you should not, put a price on democracy and the right to vote." He added that he believed that holding a by-eleciton is the right move forward.
"If there was one year left on this current term, then I would be in full support of the appointment of the person - the runner up - into that seat," the ward 3 Councillor stated. "But with just under 3 years I think it's important to hear the constituents voices." He added that he would support the councils decision and welcome the new councillor to the table if the council moved forward with the appointment.
The motion to appoint Stretch passed 7-3 with Councillors Dave Schnider (Ward 2), Debbie Chapman (Ward 9), and Jason Deneault (ward 3) voting against the motion.
The confirmation of Stretch's appointment is set to take place during an upcoming public meeting, where council members and citizens alike will witness the formal acknowledgment of her role.
Following the official approval, the candidate will be sworn into office at the end of January 2024, solidifying her position as the representative for Ward 10.
The vacancy in Ward 10 arose when Aislinn Clancy, the former City Councillor, secured a seat in the Provincial Parliament in December 2023.