West Vancouver byelection called for November

West Vancouver voters will go to the polls to elect a new council member on Nov. 19.

In an emergency session Wednesday morning, District of West Vancouver council called a byelection to fill the seat of Michael Lewis, who died on Aug. 6 following a brief illness with cancer.

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Counc. Lewis
The late Coun. Michael Lewis died Aug. 6 after a brief illness. photo supplied

The district will open several polling stations across West Vancouver that day, and provide opportunities for advanced voting and voting by mail-in ballot.

The nomination period for would-be candidates opens at 9 a.m. on Oct. 4. Nomination documents, which are available at municipal hall’s legislative services department or at westvancouver.ca/election, must be filed by 4 p.m. on Oct. 14. Campaign finance rules are posted at elections.bc.ca.

District clerk Sheila Scholes has been appointed as the chief election officer and staff are now looking to source vote counting machines. So far, no budget has been set for the byelection.

In a statement, Mayor Michael Smith implored West Vancouverites to get involved.

“This byelection is no less important than a general election because there is only one position open,” he said. “Our community needs representation by a committed, knowledgeable citizen if council is to continue working on the many important initiatives underway. I encourage residents to participate fully, because local government has the most direct impact on our everyday lives.”

In the last general municipal election in 2014, only 28.34 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot in West Vancouver.

The last municipal by-election on the North Shore, was held in 2004 to replace Don Bell, when he stepped down as mayor of the District of North Vancouver to take a seat in Parliament with the federal Liberals. Long-time council member Janice Harris resigned her seat to run for the top job and was elected in a very tight race with 5,037 votes compared to 4,951 votes cast for runner-up Doug MacKay-Dunn.

At the time, a voter turnout of 23.87 per cent was considered very high for a municipal byelection. The last byelection before that in 1991 saw only 12.38 per cent of eligible voters show up.

Lewis was first elected to council in 2008 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014.

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