Saint John police are investigating alleged offences under the municipal Elections Act in the hotly contested Ward 3 byelection to replace former councillor Donnie Snook.
The investigation stems from two complaints regarding campaign signage, confirmed Elections New Brunswick spokesman Paul Harpelle.
One complaint allegedly involves one of Gerry Lowe's signs, which was reportedly in the parking lot of an advance polling station on Saturday, said Harpelle.
Section 55(4) of the act prohibits the displaying of any campaign material within 30 metres of a polling station either on the day of advance polls or election day, he said.
Lowe, a prominent south-end developer and former owner of Vet's Taxi, said he is "shocked" by the case and has not yet been contacted by police.
Lowe said a Vet's Taxi with one of his campaign signs in the rear window dropped off a passenger at the Boys and Girls Club polling station on Paul Harris Street on Saturday.
The taxi was only there for "about five minutes," he said, but somebody complained to the returning officer Richard Thorne.
"I called Mr. Thorne to make sure everything was alright. He said it was and that was the end of it," said Lowe.
"Well, I thought that was the end of it, but I guess it wasn't."
The other complaint involves eight-by-11-inch pieces of paper posted in King's Square that allegedly did not include information about the printer, according to Elections New Brunswick.
Under section 54 of the act, any printed advertisement that's related to an election must bear the name and address of its printer and publisher, said Harpelle.
He could not say which of the eight candidates those signs were promoting and none of them remained posted, as of Tuesday afternoon.
Offences carry fines
"These matters have now been brought to the police to investigate. They have the proper tools and experience to determine the veracity of these complaints," Harpelle said.
The offences carry fines of between $140 and $1,100, he said.
It's unclear how long the investigation will take, but the returning officer for the Ward 3 byelection, Richard Thorne, has already given a statement to police, said Harpelle.
Such complaints are not unusual, he said.
"In literally every election campaign there’s invariably some issues that arise related to signage and activities of different campaigns, so this is not a first time."
In addition to Lowe, the other candidates in the May 13 byelection include: retail manager Brian Boyd, child care worker Barbara Ellemberg, former deputy mayor and mayoralty candidate Michelle Hooton, liquor enforcement officer Mark LeBlanc, chef Allen Leslie, former business owner Anne-Marie Mullin, and environmentalist Graeme Stewart-Robertson.
Ward 3 is the most populated ward in the city. It covers the southern peninsula, the lower west side, part of the north end and much of the east side.
Snook, 41, resigned his seat in January after being charged with three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose, one count of making child pornography, two counts of distributing child pornography and two counts of possession.
More charges are expected against the suspended youth ministry leader, the Crown has said.
Snook, who has been in custody since his Jan. 9 arrest, has not yet entered any pleas. He is scheduled to return to court on May 29.