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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Candidate campaign conduct-clever, cunning, or mistake

by Sylene Argent

The Town of Essex has a long list of policies candidates are to follow while campaigning for a position at the municipal decision-making table, such as the Elections Sign Policy and the Use of Corporate Resources Policy.

  With so many rules to follow, and with a focus on wanting to get a message across in a relatively short amount of time to a large volume of residents, a candidate could make a mistake and accidentlly break a rule. Candidates may also choose to not abide by those policies, or may enter into “grey-like” areas, for a chance to advance in the polls.

   Recently, the Essex Free Press was contacted with several candidate campaign concerns.

  Katie McGuire-Blais, who is running for the Mayoral position for the Town of Essex, had concerns with Councillor Larry Snively’s brochure. In two of the photos in the brochure, Snively is wearing an official Essex polo shirt.

  The Use of Corporate Resources Policy prohibits candidates from wearing the Town logo or allowing candidates to use it to promote their campaigns. This message was issued in an ad recently published in the Essex Free Press.

  When filing their nomination packages, candidates for office in the 2018 election were advised that the Use of Corporate Resources for Election Purposes Policy applies, the ad noted.

  With that infraction, McGuire-Blais believes Snively broke a policy. She said, in connecting with the Town on the matter, there seems to be really little consequence for breaking such policies.

  There were also concerns from other candidates about Councillor Snively’s brochure as it contains photos of him sitting in the chairperson’s seat inside the Council Chambers at the Essex Civic and Education Centre, where Essex Council hosts its regular meetings. Some candidates felt this was technically a Town resource, though Snively felt that was fine.

  When asked about his campaign brochure, Snively explained the photos of him wearing the Town polo was an oversight and it has since been blacked out.

  McGuire-Blais also noted that Snivley and other candidate for Mayor, Ron Rogers, promoted themselves during the Harrow Fair Parade, which she said candidates were informed they were not allowed to do. Snively, she said, stayed on route with the rest of Council, but there was a float advertising his campaign, and Rogers walked the parade route, and a float contained his sign.

As far as the parade, Snively said he knew Rogers was participating in the parade. It was another party who added his sign to a float, he claimed.

  Rogers said his sign was one to note he sponsored a float in the parade, a 1938 vehicle, and it only contained his name. It did not include the word “elect.” In his opinion, it did not meet the criteria to be considered an election sign.

  Rogers said he did not walk with the Town in the parade as he wanted to be identified individually. He has only been involved in this term of Council for less than a year as he won the Ward 3 byelection in the fall of 2017.

  Rogers questioned whether the Harrow Parade was indeed a Town resource as a Fair Board runs it.

  McGuire-Blais is frustrated with the lack of consequences. She said administration emails candidates when there is an infraction and tells them to stop.

  “It is upsetting there is not even a fine,” she said. She commented that the candidates who break policies, “[it] shows they think they are above local government. That they can do what they want.”

  McGuire-Blais said one response she received from the Town was that candidates should take responsibility to call out other candidates if they are not in compliance. McGuire-Blais was disappointed in that response as she believes it is Town administration who should ensure candidates are following the rules.    

  Snively alleged the people who are complaining are the ones who are running against him in the election. “I know I’m doing well,” he said. “I take it with a grain of salt.”

  As far as campaigns are concerned, Snively said there are too many rules in Essex, some of which that could be loosened up. “It is getting a little ridiculous.”

  Rogers asked, “Why do we put bylaws in place that have no teeth? It goes beyond the election in Town. Why do we put them in place without teeth to make people comply?”

  The Essex Free Press requested clarification from the town administration about the consequences of using Town resources, and what a town resource includes, such as photo taking. The only response received back is that the rules in these areas are governed by the Election Sign Policy and Sign Bylaw and the Use of Corporate Resources Policy.

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