Clearwater County voters prefer appointed reeve

The residents of Clearwater County have voted to keep the status quo when it comes to selecting a reeve.

The residents of Clearwater County have voted to keep the status quo when it comes to selecting a reeve.

Citizens were asked to vote on a plebiscite concerning the appointment of the reeve in addition to casting a ballot in Monday’s municipal election.

Unofficial results showed 1,017 residents opted to stay with the current format that sees council select one councillor to be reeve while 781 favoured the option to have electors vote in a reeve.

Chief administrative officer Ron Leaf explained that the plebiscite results will be presented to council on Nov. 9. The seven councillors will then direct county administration on which direction to go.

“Even though the vote was relatively close . . . we should go with the majority,” said re-elected Division Six councillor Earl Graham.

Graham, who served as deputy reeve for the past two years, has favoured a council-appointed reeve.

“Nobody has proved to me that this system isn’t working . . . ,” he argued.

Graham said he wasn’t surprised by the results as he felt many of the residents within his division seemed to support leaving the format alone.

Pat Alexander, the re-elected Division Seven councillor who has served as reeve for two years, disagreed.

“I think the electorate are knowledgeable enough to pick the reeve,” he said. “You can provide better leadership if elected by the people.”

He felt the question was presented in a confusing way, something residents called to complain about.

The question and options were worded as follows: “The Clearwater County reeve may be chosen either by council choosing one of its members (the way we do it now) or by a vote of all electors. Do you support (choose one): council selecting a councillor as reeve; or, all of the electors voting for the reeve.”

Alexander argued the question should have been simpler, such as: “Should the reeve be elected by the people or council?”

Alexander said he’s going to continue promoting the format.

A second question on the plebiscite asked residents to vote for the number of seats that should be available on council if the county moves to a system where the reeve is elected by voters.

The majority, 1,170 people, favoured a council with one reeve and six councillor positions whereas 432 selected a council with one reeve and eight councillor spots.

The newly elected Clearwater County councillors — Jim Duncan for Division One, Dick Wymenga for Division Two, Case Korver for Division Three, John Vandermeer for Division Four, Bob Bryant for Division Five, Graham and Alexander — will be sworn in on Tuesday. The organizational meeting will follow, in which council will elect the reeve and deputy reeve.