Windsor

Essex mayor isn't stepping down amid Elections Act violation charge

Essex, Ont. Mayor Larry Snively announced on Monday that he won't step down as mayor, despite the charge unveiled last week that he allegedly violated Ontario's Municipal Elections Act. 

However, Mayor Larry Snively said he would step aside from the local police services board

Essex Mayor Larry Snively was charged by OPP for allegedly 'procuring' ineligible voters to participate in the town's 2018 municipal election. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Essex, Ont. Mayor Larry Snively announced on Monday that he won't step down from his role, following the charge unveiled last week that he allegedly violated Ontario's Municipal Elections Act. 

Addressing Town of Essex council on Monday evening, however, Snively said he does plan on stepping aside from his role on the local police services board until the charge "plays out in court." 

"That was weighing heavy on me whether or not we were going to make any violations," said Ward 2 Coun. Kim Verbeek, who questioned Snively's position on the board amid the allegations.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) charged Snively under the Municipal Elections Act of Ontario after an investigation into the "reported misuse of proxy voters during the 2018 municipal election."

"I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting on that committee with that charge against me," he said. 

Nonetheless, Snively said he wanted to ensure the public "that I did not do this and am not guilty of knowingly doing anything wrong during the election."

"I'm not guilty and that will be shown in court," he said. 

Verbeek wouldn't say whether or not she believes Snively should step down as mayor.

"I think that he's the only one [who] can make that decision from my understanding right now," she said. "I would support him if he needed to step down."

She also considers the allegations to be "very serious."

"Was it one proxy that was fudged or 100? That doesn't matter," said Verbeek.

Ward 1 Coun. Morley Bowman said he expected Snively to continue on as mayor because "there's a process in place, as you move forward, as that charge goes through the courts."

"Let it take its course and when the time comes, the decisions will be made and it will be dealt with at that time," said Bowman.

Snively won his mayoral seat in 2018 by 117 votes, receiving 2,261 ballots in his favour. Runner-up Ron Rogers secured 2,144 votes. 

Rogers previously said that Snively should step aside from his duties as mayor, as well as step aside from any committees or boards — especially the town's police services board. 

As CBC News was the first to report, the OPP began its investigation into the 2018 municipal election in October that year, after Essex received two official complaints that proxy ballots had been signed and cast without the knowledge or permission of the eligible voters.

"As a result of the investigation, the OPP has charged [Larry Snively] … with the offence of Procuring Persons to Vote in a Municipal Election when those Persons were not entitled to do so, contrary to Section 89(d) of the Municipal Elections Act," OPP previously said.

Ward 4 Coun. Sherry Bondy is among who have called on Snively to resign as mayor. She also previously said Snively should resign from his position on the police services board.

 

With files from Jason Viau

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