It’s up to media and voters to vet candidates in a municipal election.
That’s the message from Saskatoon’s returning officer, Catherine Folkerson, after comments poured in on social media following news a convicted sex offender was running for school board trustee in the city.
“The law states that if someone wishes to be nominated for office they need to have their nomination papers complete and they need to provide their $100,” Folkerson said.
“And then they become a person who is able to run for office.”
Denis Robert Hall had been running to be a Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools board trustee, but announced the end of his campaign Monday after media reports surfaced referring to sex crimes he committed in the 1970s.
In 1981, Hall pleaded guilty to two charges of having intercourse with girls aged 14 to 16, and two counts of indecent assault. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
Hall’s name is still on the ballot, however, and could still earn him a seat if enough votes are cast.
Folkerson told 650 CKOM a criminal record check isn’t conducted when a nominee files their papers.
The returning officer is bound to abide by the elections process laid out by Saskatchewan’s Local Government Election Act. While there are provisions in the legislation to remove sitting members of council if they are convicted of a criminal offence, there is no reference to candidates being disqualified for having a criminal record.
“When people commit a crime, they are punished and then they move on with their life,” Folkerson said.
“They’ve done what society has required.”
She noted the City of Saskatoon publicly provided the names and submitted profiles of each candidate shortly after nomination periods closed, saying they were transparent in the process.
Folkerson said it’s up to the media and voters to look into who’s running.
“You have a public who has the opportunity to vote – or not vote – for the candidate,” she said.
Hall also ran for trustee in 2003, a year after he was banned from entering GSCS facilities. His past was reported on at the time, and he received 3,762 votes to finish in ninth place.
GSCS Media Consultant Derrick Kunz told 650 CKOM Tuesday the board is bound by the government’s election legislation when it comes to the nominations and voting for trustees.