By Chad Ingram
Like council meetings themselves, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the election of the Haliburton County warden for 2021 will take place virtually.
Each year, the eight members of county council, who are the mayors and deputy mayors of each of the county’s lower-tier, vote from among themselves who will serve as county warden – the head of county council – for the upcoming year. Traditionally, this process takes place during an inaugural meeting in December.
Since the spring, Haliburton County council, along with the councils of its four lower-tier townships, has been holding meetings virtually, with members participating remotely via online conferencing app Zoom, proceedings broadcast to the public on YouTube.
During an Oct. 28 meeting, chief administrative officer Mike Rutter presented a report with options on how county council would like to proceed with the election of the 2021 warden amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Normally, nominations are done with interested councillors filling out nomination forms, those forms being signed by a mover and seconder. Since it won’t be possible to obtain signatures from movers and seconders as council continues to meet remotely, nomination forms and emails of support are to be sent to Rutter by Nov. 13. Emails with nomination forms were being sent to members of council following last week’s meeting.
Should an election be required – often the warden position is acclaimed for the year – Rutter’s report offered two options. One was a virtual election that could take place either during the inaugural meeting, or with members submitting virtual ballots once they have received them any time before the inaugural. The second was a more traditional process, where staff would arrange times to meet councillors who would place paper ballots in a box, with that box to be opened during the inaugural meeting.
Ultimately councillors decided to vote virtually, but prior to the meeting, lest any technical glitches interrupt the process. Online council meetings have frequently been subject to internet connectivity problems.
Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen has served as warden for the past two years.