Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Election skullduggery? Catholic trustee ‘completely blindsided’ by loss of seat over campaign expenses paperwork snafu

Long-time St. Clair Catholic trustee Michelle Parks plans to fight to keep her seat on the school board after she learned she will have to vacate it as a result of failing to file her campaign expenses for last fall's municipal election.

“I'm really passionate about what I do and so it's really disappointing that someone who is so passionate might get replaced with someone who is in it for an agenda,” the Sarnia-area trustee said after she was “completely blindsided” by the news Tuesday.

City clerk Nancy Wright-Laking confirmed Tuesday that Parks will be forced to vacate her seat after she was one of five municipal election candidates who failed to file their campaign expenses – a requirement under the Municipal Elections Act – by last Friday's deadline.

“She cannot be appointed to another position and she also can't run in the next election,” Wright-Laking said of the repercussions.

But Parks – a nine-year Catholic school board trustee – said her situation isn't a case of simply forgetting to fill out a form.

She claims she was told by a city staffer – whose name she didn't think to write down at the time – that she didn't need to fill out a form after she contacted them upon receiving a single reminder letter last fall.

“I didn't have anything to report and I verbally told them that and had I received anything else saying, 'No,' or had they said, 'Well, you need to sign that form and put zero on it' – I mean, how easy is that? – then I would have done that.”

But Wright-Laking contends the city sent out three letters, in addition to a reminder email last week, to all candidates.

“The only thing I could say to her is she could go to a court and see whether a judge would allow her financial statements to be brought in, but I don't know how successful she would be and I don't really know the process either,” she said.

Parks isn't alone in this unusual situation.  (more...)

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