Chris Newell. (Contributed photo)

Candidate withdraws from regional district byelection

Remaining candidate in by acclamation

Houston resident Chris Newell will be the next director, by acclamation, for the Houston rural area on the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN board of directors.

The move came last week after the only other candidate, Stephen Miller, asked to remove his name from the ballot.

But that request, made Feb. 5, needed the approval of the municipal affairs and housing minister because it was made after the deadline to do so had passed.

“Mr. Miller indicated in his correspondence to us that his withdrawal was for ‘private reasons’,” said RDBN chief administrative officer Curtis Helgesen.

”Section 101(1) of the local government act allows withdrawal up until 4 p.m. on the 29th day before general voting – in this case, January 31st. Section 101(2) allows withdrawal after that date subject to the approval of the minister.”

That approval came Feb. 6.

Miller would have been a non-resident candidate as he provided a Victoria address on his nomination papers.

The Houston rural seat, which incorporates a wide swath of the area, ranging up to Granisle, had been held by Rob Newell, father to Chris Newell, until his death late last year.

Rob Newell was first elected in 2011 and his re-election in Oct. 2018 would have been his third term as a regional director. His son will now fill the remainder of the term.

And while the regional district spent last week sorting out its byelection situation, something very similar happened last month in Tahsis, a small community on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Like the regional district, Tahsis also required a bylelection and, like the regional district, scheduled one for this month.

Three people submitted nomination papers, two local residents and a third person identified as a Stephen Adrian Miller of Victoria.

All three were declared candidates on Jan. 7 but when Village of Tahsis employee Janet St. Denis, who also acts as the Village’s chief election officer, probed further, discrepancies concerning Miller began to emerge.

“I did not recognize any of the names,” said St. Denis of the required nominators on Miller’s nomination papers.

“In reviewing the addresses of his nominators, I recognized several of the addresses but the names did not match the people who I believed to live at these addresses,” she said.

“I proceeded to call several of property owners who verified it to be true that they did not have the person named on the nomination documents living at their residence.”

In order to be qualified as a nominator, a person must be an elector of the municipality or electoral area for which the nomination is made.

The Village of Tahsis then challenged Mr. Miller’s nomination in provincial court in Victoria on Jan. 24 with the court declaring Mr. Miller was no longer a candidate.

St. Denis, who was the main contact with Miller, said he gave no indication as to why he wanted to become a candidate for the village council post.

A statement from the municipal affairs ministry did not include the name of Stephen Miller, but did confirm it was contacted by the regional district “about receiving a signed withdrawal notice from a candidate whose candidacy in a different byelection was challenged and upheld by the court in the Village of Tahsis by-election.”

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