City hires lawyer to get rid of alderwoman

Jul. 20, 2004. 02:11 PM


LETHBRIDGE, Alta. A lawyer has been hired in a bid to get an alderwoman convicted of mischief out of office, says Mayor Bob Tarleck.

Tarleck said the city isn't waiting to see if Dar Heatherington voluntarily resigns before it applies to Court of Queen's Bench for her removal.

A lawyer is "presently engaged in this case," Tarleck said.

Council voted during a meeting July 12 to send Heatherington a letter asking her to quit. Council also voted to seek a court order if she didn't do that.

The first part of the plan hasn't worked, so the city is preparing the groundwork for a court application, Tarleck said.

"We have been attempting to deliver a letter to her and we have been unable to do that," he said. "We have been unable to find her."

Heatherington, who did not attend the council meeting last week, has no intention of quitting, however, and declared her innocence in a letter to council.

"Until I have exhausted every process available to me to prove my innocence, I will continue to fill my role as an alderman for the City of Lethbridge, regardless of how limited council tries to make that position," she said in the letter.

Heatherington has drawn unwanted publicity to Lethbridge and its city council ever since she disappeared last year in Montana while on city business. She turned up in Las Vegas saying she'd been abducted and sexually assaulted. No one was ever charged and she recanted her account to Montana police.

Heatherington made more headlines upon her return to Lethbridge when city police accused her of writing lurid letters to herself and blaming them on a stalker. Last month, she was convicted of public mischief, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Under Alberta's Municipal Government Act, such a conviction can disqualify a councillor.

Although Heatherington has yet to receive the mayor's letter, which "requests her immediate resignation from Lethbridge city council," it's prudent to proceed with a court application so the city can deal with the issue as quickly as possible, Tarleck said.

"Let the judge and our lawyer deal with that. I'm focusing 100 per cent on running the city. I'm not waiting with bated breath to find out what (Heatherington) will do."

Tarleck said council will continue to focus on the city's economic and social development.

Municipal elections in Alberta will be held this October.