The former membership supervisor at the YMCA of Central East Ontario is the top choice of an ad-hoc committee formed to screen applicants for the vacant Belleville city council seat.
Jennifer McTavish is being recommended from a slate of 19 people who applied for the position made open by the passing of Pat Culhane last year.
McTavish currently sits on the city’s accessibility advisory committee.
Coun. Kelly McCaw, who chairs the ad-hoc committee, noted Tuesday that she did not have a vote to appoint McTavish to the position, only the six members of the committee did.
However, she stated that, having served with McTavish on various committees, she feels the candidate will cover all the bases of engagement, experience and advocacy while holding the position.
"She's been on city committees for several years. She's not a stranger to many of the council members because of her commitment to the city and the committees she sat on," McCaw stated.
"She has been engaged. That was an important factor when it came to (committee members) putting her name forward."
McCaw added McTavish is "very well-spoken" and was excited to be considered for the position.
Mayor Mitch Panciuk formed the committee after city council deadlocked on a motion to appoint next-in-line Tyler Allsopp to the position at a Dec. 14 meeting.
Special consideration and criteria were given to female candidates and those with diverse backgrounds.
Of the 19 applicants reviewed by the committee 15 were females and four were males; three ran in the last municipal election in 2018, Carol Feeney, Jeremy Davis and former Starboard Communications News Director Paul Martin.
Reaction from the public has been largely and swiftly negative in reaction to the decision not to appoint Allsopp.
There was even a petition started by former councillor Jodie Jenkins to ask council to reconsider its decision, that has gained more than 1,900 signatures as of late Tuesday afternoon.
The report comes forward ahead of a special council meeting to consider the recommendations on Wednesday afternoon, which can be seen at 2 p.m. via ZOOM and the City of Belleville’s YouTube channel.
The full list of candidates and the report can be found at this link.
If council decides not to appoint McTavish for any reason before a Friday deadline, the city will be in contravention of the Ontario Municipal Act and the province could step in to force a decision.
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