Coun. Bernard Davis says the City of St. John’s needs to overhaul its electoral process.
Davis, the city’s Ward 4 councillor, told Monday’s regular council meeting that during his election campaign, he was contacted by several residents who had concerns about the voting list.
“When the mail-in ballots came out, a lot of people didn’t get the mail-in ballots that they were expecting,” he said, including one voter who had been dropped off the list despite voting in every election for the past two decades.
“One of the other major issues that we had was up in new areas in St. John’s where there was no structure in place on how we could enumerate people who just bought houses in, say, Kenmount Terrace or Airport Heights, where there was new development.”
Davis wants the city to get the list from the chief electoral officer for the province.
“I think we’ve got to form stronger partnerships with these individuals or establish our own,” he said. “But establishing our own is not going to work as well as we can probably work with the confines of the two election levels, federal and provincial. They’re both going to have elections prior to our 2017 one, so the list should be good.”
Davis is also concerned about campaign fundraising and spending accountability; he says candidates should have to submit detailed spending reports, rather than just declare they followed campaign spending regulations.
“If we’re just signing a piece of paper to say we didn’t go over — well, that’s the honour system. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; I’m just saying I think we need to be more open.”
Davis has listed his expenses on his website, and he’s asking the city clerk and the city’s audit and accountability committee to review other options for campaign accountability.
Coun. Wally Collins declined to comment on a Supreme Court decision last week that overturned council’s decision to reject a proposed seniors’ complex.
The court ruled last week that Collins, whose Ward 5 would have included the proposed seniors’ home, had a “closed mind” on the proposal from the start and wasn’t prepared to judge the proposal on its merits. The proposal — a three-storey, 69-unit complex between Carondale Drive, Dorsey’s Lane and Old Petty Harbour Road — was effectively kiboshed when council voted 7-3 to reject a rezoning amendment.
Collins said Monday he wouldn’t comment until the city decides what to do about the court decision.
“The city may be appealing it, so I’ll make a comment after, if we find out if the city is appealing it.”