Joey Coleman: Court upholds ban against candidate who failed to file election expenses

Court upholds ban against candidate who failed to file election expenses

The Superior Court of Justice upheld a ban imposed against Michael Ecker from running for municipal public office until 2014 after Ecker failed to file his election expenses in March.

Ecker ran for Separate School Board Trustee in Ward 6 during the 2010 municipal election. He placed a close second for the seat with 1392 votes. The winner,  Rev. Kyran Kennedy, won with 1457 votes – a difference of only 65 votes.

After the October 25, 2010 election, candidates were given five months to complete their campaign financial disclosures. Ecker did not complete his nor did he communicate to the city clerk or courts requesting an extension to the March 25, 2011 deadline.

As a consequence of his failure to file, under section 80 of the Municipal Elections Act, “until the next regular election has taken place, the candidate [Ecker] is ineligible to be elected or appointed to any office to which this Act applies”

Ward 6 winner resigns, Ecker seeks appointment, goes to court

The winner of the race, Rev. Kennedy, who held the seat for 45 years resigned in March citing personal health reasons.

The Catholic School Board’s trustees voted to fill the vacancy by appointment. Ecker’s failure to file expenses made him ineligible for the appointment. Having run such a close second, the trustees would be hard pressed to deny him the appointment if he were able to seek it.

Ecker filed an application for an order setting aside the penalties imposed for his failure to file. Ecker’s case against the Catholic School Board and City of Hamilton was heard on April 3 at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton.

Court upholds ban, states Ecker’s “conduct was unreasonable”

At the end of the hearing, Justice John Cavarzan upheld the ban against Ecker. On April 12, Justice Cavarzan released the written reasons for his decision.

Justice Cavarzan wrote ” it is difficult to credit Mr. Ecker’s assertion that his failure to file was inadvertent due to a family emergency or to pressures and deadlines at his place of employment.”

He noted the City Clerk’s office repeatedly informed candidates of the requirement to file by deadline and told them of the mechanisms for requesting an extension.

Justice Cavarzan ruled Ecker’s “conduct was unreasonable and it cannot be said that he acted in good faith.”

The Catholic School Board appointed Raymond Bartolotti to fill the vacancy on Tuesday.