Jane Brewer's election withdrawal creates potential quandary

An election official with the Region of Waterloo says Jane Brewer's withdrawl from the race for her Cambridge seat on regional council could create a potential democratic dilemma, if she wins.

Even though the Cambridge councillor has bowed out of the race she could still technically win

Election officials with the Region of Waterloo say Jane Brewer's withdrawal from the race for her Cambridge seat on regional council could create a post-election quandary because it's possible that she could still win. 

Brewer announced she would be bowing out of the race earlier this week for health reasons, citing a neurological condition that's affecting her mobility. 

The trouble, according to Region of Waterloo clerk Kris Fletcher, is that Brewer missed the September 12 deadline to officially withdraw her name from the race.

"After that point in time we certify who is running for office," Fletcher said, noting the information has already been sent to clerk's offices in the region's municipalities, who in turn have already sent it to the printer for ballot preparation. 

"Cambridge is also doing Internet voting, as well as phone-in and regular, traditional voting," she said. "So their material has already gone to print."

Brewer's name is still on the ballot

It means Cambridge voters can still mark an 'x' beside Brewer's name even though she is no longer seeking to renew her term in office. 

Fletcher said there are a number of things the region can do in order to attempt to stop people from voting for a candidate who isn't actually running. 

"We are allowed to post notices in the polls, post notices on our website, currently we're looking at how we might prepare some kind of communication campaign in order to let the public know she does not intend to take office."

In municipal politics, where incumbency and name recognition has a huge influence on a candidate's chances of success in the outcome of the contest, there is still a chance voters could elect Brewer, who has served her constituents in one form or another for more than 30 years. 

Unprecedented win would be a long-shot

If that happens, Fletcher said, the Municipal Act is very clear on what happens next. 

"Regional council would have to decide whether or not they are going to fill the vacancy by appointment or through a by-election." 

Still, Fletcher suggested the chances of Brewer being elected to her seat without actually wanting the job is a long shot, adding if it were to happen it would be unprecedented. 

"It could happen," she said. "Although, I don't know of any place in which it has happened."