‘Open process’ to interview candidates in public session
By Richard Leitner, News Staff
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustees will appoint someone to fill the vacancy in Stoney Creek left by the sudden death of Robert Barlow by the end of August.
Trustees on Monday approved a selection process that will give interested candidates until Aug. 12 to apply for the position, which represents Wards 9 and 10.
They also acclaimed Dundas trustee Jessica Brennan as their new vice-chair.
“It’s tough to step into shoes for a person who’s no longer with us,” said Brennan, who served as chair and vice chair for two-year stints each last term. “I do want to follow very strongly his commitment to allowing people to have a voice.”
Trustees had the choice of holding a byelection or appointing a replacement for Barlow, but rejected the former, estimated to cost $60,000 to $100,000, to fill the position for what will effectively be a one-year term.
The process approved on Monday will see their governance committee meet the week of Aug. 19 to potentially develop a short list of no more than eight candidates if there is a flood of applicants.
It will also create profiles of prospective candidates and a list of questions for interviews the following week.
Brennan, who is also chair of the governance committee, said the entire process, including the interviews, will be open to the public.
“The interview questions will be the same for every candidate, so there won’t be any possibility of someone seeming to get easier, softball questions than others,” she said. “It will have kind of open process.”
Trustee votes, however, will be done by secret ballot and results will only disclose how candidates placed, not the number of votes they received.
If no one gets a majority of votes, candidates at the bottom will drop off the list and trustees will keep voting until a majority decision emerges.
Should there be a tie between two candidates on the final ballot – a possibility because there are now only 10 trustees – they will draw lots to determine who wins, a requirement of the Education Act.
Trustees voted on Monday to honour Barlow’s memory by naming a baseball diamond at a lower Stoney Creek school in his honour in consultation with his family and the East Hamilton Battlefield Cal Ripken League, which he founded.
They also paid tribute to the 47-year-old father, who died suddenly on May 29 after suffering a heart attack while helping prepare a baseball diamond for a game.
A moment’s silence followed a short video prepared by his family featuring pictures and film clips from his life to The Who’s Love Reign O’er Me.
“Bob didn’t live a long life by our standards but I do believe he led a full life, and that measure is in the number of lives he influenced and changed in positive ways,” board chair Tim Simmons said. “He liked to put other people first, especially kids.”