The local race for Port Alice’s mayoral seat may already be decided with one candidate stepping down.
David Stewart, candidate for Port Alice mayor and councillor for the last four years, has decided to stop his bid for office. Stewart, during the all candidate meeting held in Port Alice last Oct. 4, pointed out he would step down and spur a by-election if elected as mayor. Since he did not withdraw before the deadline, his name will still remain on voting ballots with advanced polls already open as of Oct. 10.
His wife, Natalie Stewart, mentioned in an online post that he is unable to make any commitment as mayor due to personal reasons. Stewart works full time running his own business, coaches local sports teams and volunteers much of his time to different organizations. Stewart then mentioned that he would not be able to fully commit to each activity and “do the kind of job he feels Port Alice needs to as Mayor.”
Bonnie Danyk, the chief electoral officer for Port Alice, stated that “the deadline for withdrawals was Sept. 21, so if someone wanted to withdraw after that date, and the ballots were printed, they can ask the province for permission.”
She added, “In this case, the person did announce at the all candidates meeting and wished to withdraw and ballots were already printed. The candidate’s name remains on the ballot, so people can still vote for them.” The all candidates meeting was held well after the deadline to withdraw, with advanced polling having been opened the following week.
Danyk confirmed that if Stewart were elected as mayor, he could step down and then the village would have to hold a by-election as soon as early next year. The process for a by-election would mean holding a nomination period for mayoral candidates along with opening advanced polls and having a voting day, much the same like a regular election.
Port Alice will hold a regular municipal election with an expected cost of $5,000-$6,000, but if Stewart happens to be elected as mayor and subsequently steps down, the village will have to spend another $5,000-$6,000 for a by-election.
Stewart was unavailable when the North Island Gazette attempted to contact him for a comment. The Gazette will update the story if any comments are provided.