6 candidates in Ward 12 byelection have had run-ins with the law

A CBC investigation into the candidates’ backgrounds reveals six of the 32 byelection candidates have had run-ins with the law.

Charges range from assault to school zone speeding infractions

Election signs are posted across Ward 12 for the city byelection. (CBC)

Advance polls open Monday in the Ward 12 byelection where residents are trying to replace a popular councillor from a record-setting slate of candidates.

Voters must select a city councillor from a daunting number of 32 hopefuls.

A CBC investigation into the candidates' backgrounds reveals six of the 32 have had run-ins with the law.

While many of the incidents were minor, one candidate was convicted of assault, another was the subject of two court-ordered peace bonds and a third pleaded guilty to more than a dozen public health charges.

Assault charge 'a misunderstanding'

When Terry McKinnon, a Canadian Revenue Agency employee, was 26, he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault.

McKinnon, now 45, described it as "a misunderstanding", and told CBC that once the judge heard his side of the story, he was given 12 months probation and a conditional discharge, facts confirmed by court records.

Saranjit (Sam) Singh Jhajj (Supplied )
Just last month, Saranjit Singh Jhajj  appeared in provincial court and agreed to a peace bond that forbade him contact or communication with a family member.  

Jhajj, who owns an Edmonton landscaping company, was also ordered to report to a probation officer, attend counselling if directed and to keep the peace and be of good behavior.  

Jhajj, 34, describes the incident that led to the peace bond as a "private family matter", and notes he has no criminal charges or convictions.

In 2008, Jhajj was the subject of another peace bond issued by a Fort McMurray court.

Workplace dispute

He was driving a truck in Fort McMurray at the time and got into a workplace dispute with another truck driver.

Shahnawaz (Shani) Ahmad (Supplied )
RCMP were called in and the matter went to court, ultimately resulting in a peace bond ordering him to stay away from the other driver.  

In 2008, real estate agent Shahnawaz (Shani) Ahmad faced 43 charges under the Public Health Act over conditions of an apartment building he still owns.

He pleaded guilty to a total of 15 charges including failure to maintain a housing unit and eight counts of failure to comply with standards.

Ahmad decided last week to drop out of the by-election race.  He said he's afraid the vote will be fragmented with so many candidates running.

Sukhdeep (Steve) Toor (Supplied)
"This is our community," he said. "There are so many people. Otherwise, our vote will be divided and one person running is much better."    

Ahmad's name will still be on the ballot — right at the top of it actually as names are listed alphabetically — because he missed the deadline for pulling out of the race.

Asked what he'd do if Ward 12 voters elect him, he said, "My lawyer will let me know what to do at that time."  

Party got too loud

Candidate Sukhdeep Toor admits he hosted a party in Sherwood Park nine years ago that got too loud.  

Yash Pal Sharma (Supplied)
He pled guilty to contravening a noise bylaw, paying a $500 fine. Toor pointed out it was "nothing criminal," adding "boys will be boys."  

Finally, a pair of candidates have run into trouble behind the wheel.  

Last month, Yash Pal Sharma pleaded guilty to a Highway Traffic Act charge of failing to obey a traffic control device.

The $388 fine was later reduced to $233.  When reached by phone, Sharma refused comment.  

Rakeshbhai Patel will have his day in court — actually two dates — this spring.

Rakeshbhai Patel (Supplied)
He's accused of twice speeding in a school zone last fall and failing to wear his seatbelt on one of those occasions.  If convicted, Patel faces a $309 and $253 speeding tickets.  

There is nothing in the Local Authorities Election Act that prevents any of these candidates from running for municipal office.  

However if a person was convicted in the past 10 years of an offence under any election act at any level of government, they would become ineligible.  

Amarjeet Sohi resigned the Ward 12 seat last year to run in the federal election. He is now the infrastructure minister in Justin Trudeau's government. 

Advance polls remain open until Thursday.