By Joe Konecny
Central Elgin (CE) electors have encountered an unusual bend in the road with less than a week to go before the close of nominations for the October 24, 2022 municipal election.
Incumbent Mayor Sally Martyn has declared her candidacy for Ward 2 Councillor, just weeks after announcing she will not run again for mayor.
A life-long Sparta resident, Martyn, 74, said she had been firmly resolved to stepping down as mayor, with hopes her departure would attract fresh new candidates and ideas to the helm she assumed in 2018.
But her political retirement was cut short by frustration with the two other candidates currently registered to run for municipal office in her hometown and it motivated Martyn to run again.
She’s miffed because Ward 2 candidate Morgaine Halpin’s husband Anthony is a CE finance department employee, while the other Ward 2 candidate, Sherlock Reid, lives outside the ward, in Port Stanley.
“It should be someone who lives in Ward 2,” Martyn said in an interview on August 12, 2022. As for Halpin’s candidacy, Martyn speculated, “She would have to declare conflicts (of interest) on so many votes it would make her ineffective. To me it’s just inappropriate.”
Reid did not immediately respond to media inquiries. Halpin said she is aware of Martyn’s concerns but remains confident in her ability to serve the best interests of constituents.
“Yes, I’ve spoken a little with Sally about the campaign via email,” Halpin said in a statement. “That’s a great question.
“Anthony has been working for CE since this spring and he does not tell me the names of the people he served or any other sensitive information from within his department, nor do I ask,” she added. “I can see one specific vote where I would feel the need to declare conflict, and that would be when the council votes regarding staff wage increases.
“My past work in public library services was regulated by MFIPPA (the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and I routinely refused to disclose sensitive information even to police or family members of patrons,” added Halpin. MFIPPA and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) regulate access to records and personal information in the custody or control of public institutions.
“Anthony is now guided by the same act, and he and I both respect its necessity to a healthy government system,” she said. “I hope Sally would agree that a councillor who votes on nearly every issue and is prepared, when necessary, to declare a conflict and explain it to the public is a candidate demonstrating the transparency and accountability Central Elgin deserves.”
Martyn, a teacher for 26 years at Sparta Public School, retired in 2003 and launched a career in politics in 2006. She served two four-year terms as Ward 2 Councillor, with an acclamation in 2010. She was elected deputy mayor in 2014 and mayor in 2018.
“I’m not going to do a lot of campaigning,” said Martyn. “I’ve represented the ward twice before. They know what I stand for.”
So far, only Ward 2 Councillor Dennis Crevits and Deputy Mayor Tom Marks have announced their intentions to run for mayor.
Ward 1 Councillor Colleen Row and Bill Harrington have registered as candidates for Deputy Mayor. Thames Valley District School Board Trustee Meagan Ruddock has withdrawn her name from the running and is instead mounting a campaign to continue as TVDSB Trustee for Central Elgin.
Central Elgin’s Unofficial List of Candidates also registers Michelle Graham as a candidate for Ward 1 Councillor, David Conners for Ward 4, plus Rob McFarlan and David Baughman for Ward 5. Bill Fehr is the incumbent in Ward 4. Ward 5 Councillor Fiona Wynne is not running again. Incumbent Ward 3 Councillor Karen Cook is rumored to be mounting a campaign but has yet to officially declare her intentions.
As of August 13, 2022, no other candidates were noted on Central Elgin’s Unofficial List of Candidates. The deadline to file nomination papers is Friday, August 19, 2022, at 2 p.m.
TVDSB Trustee candidate information is not readily available to the public and won’t be posted online until sometime in September, 2022.