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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Mayor charged under Municipal Elections Act

- he will step aside from Police Services Board,

but will continue as Mayor during investigation -

by Sylene Argent

On February 26, the OPP announced that its Essex County Major Crime Unit completed its investigation into the 2018 Essex Municipal Election, which related to the reported misuse of proxy voters.

The OPP commenced an investigation after receiving a complaint in October of 2018 of the alleged improprieties under the Municipal Elections Act of Ontario.

As a result of the investigation, the OPP has charged Essex Mayor 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.

At the Essex Council meeting on Monday evening, Councillor Kim Verbeek, as a Board member of the Essex Police Services Board, said with Snively’s current charge, she wanted to get an opinion on weather or not the code of conduct was being broken. Snively is also on the Essex Police Services Board, and the charge is being laid by the police service this Board governs, she said.

Snively said he decided earlier that day he would step aside from the Essex Police Service Board until his issue is settled.

Verbeek thanked Snively for doing so, saying that issue was weighing heavily on her as to whether or not that would bring a violation.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting on the Committee with this charge against me,” he said. “I’m going to step aside until this is settled in court.”

In regards to the proxy issue, Snively said, “Last week, I was charged with one count of encouraging someone to vote that was not entitled to vote. One. I repeat, one count. I want to ensure the public that I did not do this, and I am not guilty of knowingly doing anything wrong during the election.

“The people behind this have their reasons for attacking me, and it has been going on since I got elected, before I got elected. And, everyone knows why. I am not guilty and that will be shown in court,” Snively claimed.

“In the meantime, I have no intention of stepping down as Mayor…this Council is so proactive and we’re in the right direction and we have huge development in this town. And I am not going to let that fail. The Town is running very well, better than it has in years. And, we have finally development happening again because [we have] investors’ trust. [They] trust us again because the old wars are over.”

He added Essex’s 2020 budget was just passed, and in years there has not been a zero percent increase, but that was achieved this year.

“We are spending millions of dollars on both town centres, Harrow and Essex Centre both. This is going to be a great year for Essex with lots of progress, lots of new housing coming down. Don’t let a few angry people spoil that because they want to make a good Council look bad for their own political reasons,” Snively said.

The accused is scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor, on March 30, 2020.

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