Updated Sept. 21
An HRM lawyer running for councillor in Cole Harbour-Westphal has been declared ineligible to run in the upcoming municipal election.
Angela Jones, an HRM employee, filed her nomination papers for councillor in District 4 Cole Harbour – Westphal by 5 p.m. on Sept. 11, but had not requested the permission for leave to run as required under the Municipal Elections Act, returning officer Cathy Mellett said today, Sept. 13, in a press release.
Under the Act municipal employees who choose to run in the municipal election must request leave to run no later than the date he or she officially becomes a candidate. There is no discretion in this matter and it is the sole responsibility of the candidate to ensure they are in compliance with the Act, Mellett said.
“As the returning officer it is my responsibility to uphold the provisions set out in provincial legislation and that is what I have done in this case,” she said.
On her Facebook election page, Jones said she only learned about the press release declaring her ineligible to run by a third party, but disagrees with Mellett's decision.
"As I am currently on parental leave until Nov. 16, it has always been my position that I was on a leave of absence already and therefore, it was not necessary to request a leave of absence from my employer. Why would a woman on leave request a leave? It is nonsensical. Despite this, I was prepared to do so if the city so required. Consequently, I discussed the matter of my leave at length with the municipal clerk on nomination day and was given her consent and firm approval that she agreed that I was on a leave of absence and that there was no need for me to request a leave from the CAO. I plan to take action to assert my democratic right to run," Jones says on Facebook.
On Sept. 21, Mellett said a court date has been set for the main hearing on the issue of Jones's eligibility as a candidate. All parties have arrived at agreement on the statement of facts and the matter will be decided on the merits of the law, she said.
“The sooner this matter is settled for the voters of District 4 Cole Harbour-Westphal the better for all parties involved,” Mellett said.
The court date for the hearing has been set for Tuesday Oct. 2 at 9:30 a.m.