Moncton to replace Merrill Henderson in May byelection
After Henderson's death on Mar. 17, council was hesitant to replace him so quickly
Moncton City Council is going ahead with plans to hold a byelection on May 12 to replace long-time councillor Merrill Henderson, who died on Mar. 17, even though there are concerns about it being too soon after his death.
Mayor George LeBlanc and many other members of council said they couldn't face the thought of a byelection in just seven weeks.
LeBlanc said it would show disrespect to Henderson and his family.
"It is difficult and emotional to have to deal with this so soon after his passing," LeBlanc said.
In New Brunswick, provincial law only allows byelections to be held in May or December.
Council made the decision to request a May byelection because three councillors are running in the provincial election in September.
Daniel Bourgeois, Shawn Crossman and Brian Hicks have all indicated their intention to run, and if Henderson's seat isn't filled council could be left without a quorum.
Paulette Thériault agrees that holding a byelection so quickly is necessary.
"I think that by not replacing our colleague, Coun. Henderson, I think we're just adding another hurdle which could place the needs of our citizens and our staff in jeopardy," she said.
Coun. Dawn Arnold is also worried about waiting until December and cautioned that without replacing Henderson in a byelection in May, there might not be enough councillors to debate the next budget or make crucial decisions about the future downtown event centre.
"I think Merrill would have wanted us to go forward and have an election." Arnold said.
In council chambers, Coun. Henderson's chair has been removed and a floral arrangement placed on his desk in his memory.