Three Norfolk councillors not seeking re-election

Council becomes “lame duck” for 4 months

By David Judd

HAROLD Sonnenberg is retiring from Norfolk County council.
The veteran Waterford-area councillor won’t seek re-election to his Ward 7 seat this fall.
Coun. Sonnenberg, 72, made the announcement at a county meeting last Tuesday.
He is the third veteran councillor to announce his retirement.
He joins Port Dover Coun. John Wells and Charlotteville Coun. Jim Oliver in planning to leave council.
Which will put county council in an unusual “lame duck” situation for four months around the Oct. 22 municipal election.
With so many current councillors retiring, provincial law doesn’t allow council at the end of its term to make decisions that belong to the council about to be elected.
The lame duck period would be declared on Nomination Day July 27 and last until newly elected councillors take their seats on Dec. 4.
During the lame duck period — basically August, September, October and November — current councillors won’t be allowed to make major spending decisions, hire or fire staff or dispose of property worth more than $50,000.
Council will meet once in August and twice in September for routine business.
There will be no meetings in October and November.
Any decisions involving spending over $50,000 would be made by Chief Administrative Officer David Cribbs.
Council business would return to normal when freshly elected councillors start their 2018-22 term on Dec. 4.
A municipal council becomes lame duck if less than 75 per cent of its councillors seek re-election on Nomination Day July 27.
A lame duck also occurs if fewer than 75 per cent of incumbent members fail to win re-election on Election Day Oct. 22.
For Norfolk council to avoid becoming a lame duck, at least seven of its current nine members must seek and win re-election.
And with Councillors Oliver, Sonnenberg and Wells counting themselves out of this October’s race, Norfolk council is bound for lame duckdom.
In announcing his retirement last Tuesday, Coun. Sonnenberg said he looked forward to watching from the sidelines and not returning e-mails and telephone calls.
Over the years, he estimated having received 11,000 e-mails.
“It’s time to throw in the towel,” he told reporters.
Coun. Sonnenberg has served on council since the modern Norfolk County was created in 2001.
He was elected five times for a total of 18 years.
Coun. Sonnenberg urged would-be candidates for his seat to start getting their names known.
In an interview, Coun. Oliver confirmed his intention not to seek re-election in Ward 4.
Coun. Wells has said for years that the 2014-18 term of council would be his last.
In an interview, Coun. Wells said it would be business as usual for council during the lame duck period.
“We are not abandoning ship,” Coun. Wells said. “It will continue to stay on course.”

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