The final candidates forum was held Tuesday night before election day on October 16. This was put on by the Southern Alberta Community Living Association. The evening centered around questions about reconciliation, inclusiveness, immigration and problems with inaccessibility in the city.
I applaud the city for being the first city to approve a 10-year reconciliation plan. I remember talking to lawyer Rhonda Ruston who was involved in a class-action law suit against the government for what was an unbelievable injustice to aboriginals who were stripped of their culture and forced into residential schools. I wanted to do a short interview with her on radio about her experiences but she said there simply wouldn’t be enough time. It was too complex an issue and there were so many emotional stories. John Pogorzelski who is Metis related a story about his grandmother and struggled to hold back his tears. The healing has begun but there’s a very long way to go.
Stories were also brought forth about handicapped people who struggle with simply getting around. The City is doing a good job with ramps and lowering curbs but there is still a way to go.
When it comes to immigration I eluded to how special it has been in my media world to get to interview people like Surya Acharya of the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and Sarah Amies of Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Services. They both have a passion for the city and have so much knowledge of cultures and how do deal with refugee situations. Immigrants have always been an integral part of our city and should continue to be welcomed.
This format was a little different in that there were four questions we all got in advance and there was a random draw as to who answered them. We all had one talk free card if we wanted to add to the question we felt passionate about.
We had 2 minutes for our answers which I feel is a better amount of time than the 1 minute we’ve had in past forums.
Raymond Hoffarth was not in attendance as he was dealing with the unfortunate passing of his brother. I understand that Joe Mauro is a good friend of the Hoffarth family and was also not in attendance. My sympathies to them.
We have two more Meet & Greets this week. One will be Thursday at CASA between 5 and 7 and one on Friday from 12:30-2:30 at the LSCO. If you’ve got time to pop by I’d love to talk to you.
As a side note and totally irrelevant, the forum was at Antons in the Lethbridge Lodge and I felt a little sad that it is no longer the “fancy” restaurant it used to be where the waiter would come to your table and prepare a Caesar salad in front of you. I miss that.
There’s an advanced poll today until 8pm at Andy’s Place at the University and again on Saturday from 10am-8pm at City Hall.
There’s also a mobile voting station option. There’ll be a bus set up in front of Park Place Mall Thursday from 10am-2pm. It will then move to the Westside Safeway from 4-8pm.
It was the 3rd forum of the week last night this time with the Home Builders Association. They are an integral part of the city. Here are some numbers provided by them:
The economic impact to our local economy for 2016:
- 677 New housing starts – a key to economic growth in our community
- 1,498 On-site and off-site jobs in new home construction, a major source of employment in Lethbridge
- $103 Million in wages – that show up in purchases across the entire local economy
- $318 Million in investment value – the largest single wealth-builder for most families
There was a lot of discussion about the city being in competition with developers and whether that is right or wrong. Something I learned is that a portion of money that the city generates gets turned over to social housing projects.
There are a lot of complex issues in the housing world like off-site levies which we didn’t really get into. The panel made up of CHBA members admitted that there were some tough questions but they were pleased with the way we all answered them to the best of our abilities.
What I liked about last night is the panel’s willingness to engage with the councillors and mayoralty candidates. On a couple of occasions we asked them questions. I thought it was productive.
Pat Siedlecki of Clear Sky Radio was the moderator and really kept everyone in line. When our time was up, it was up. When there’s 31 people who want to talk, you’ve got to keep it moving.
Next Tuesday there is a forum put on by SACLA at Antons at the Lethbridge Lodge from 6-8pm.
There is a Meet & Greet Tuesday from 1-3pm at the LSCO and on Thursday October 12 there will be a Meet & Greet at CAS from 5-7pm. That’s put on by the Allied Arts Council and Downtown BRZ.
Don’t forget, there’s an advanced poll Saturday, Oct. 7 at City Hall from 10am-8pm.
Wednesday night was another election forum this time put on by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. Forums are a necessary part of the process of finding out who you want as your representative on council but with 29 candidates for councillor and 3 for mayor it can be a daunting task. It’s like turning on a new season of Survivor and deciding in the first episode who you want to win. It’s difficult for each candidate as well trying to get their message across in the one minute that is allotted to them. I do find myself getting ruffled by the time restriction especially when you see you’ve got 10 seconds left and you’ve got at least 20 seconds of words in your mind.
In his preamble the moderator probably should have told everyone to just leave the wireless microphones turned on for the entire night. It was kind of comical in the early going when the first 10 seconds of everyone’s speech seemed to be “Is this on?”
The Chamber of Commerce is an integral part of the city and if I’m elected I would always want to get their expert opinion on business matters. Again I preach that partnership is a great form of leadership.
I’ve also said that there is a great learning curve with my first foray into civic politics. I am learning but there is still a long way to go. Because they arrange seating in alphabetical order I always sit beside council veteran Jeff Carlson who has been incredibly gracious in sharing his council acumen with me.
Much has been said about voter apathy and trying to engage younger voters. Hopefully you will make a real effort to get out to exercise your right on October 16.
Don’t forget there are advanced polls for your convenience:
- Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 City Hall, 910-4th Avenue South
- Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 University of Lethbridge, Andy’s Place, 4401 University Drive W.
- Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 City Hall, 910-4th Avenue South
Tonight it’s the Canadian Home Builders Association forum at the Lethbridge College from 5-9.
Last night was the first of three forums that will be held this week. It was put on by the Lethbridge Public Library and the Downtown BRZ. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the turnout given the nasty snowstorm. It is pretty obvious that everyone running for council and mayor believes that a vibrant downtown is essential for the city.
For me I brought up the fact that I’ve lived in Lethbridge all of my life and remember the three big department stores-Eatons, Woolworth’s and Kresges. It was where everyone went to shop. And who can forget that Eatons had the one and only escalator in town. As a kid, that was awesome. Over on 5th street was the Capitol Theatre where I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching the matinee of the week hoping that I would get to sit up in the balcony. Joey Shackleford pointed out that a number of years ago the city seemed to give up on the downtown with a business expansion to other parts of the city.
For me downtown is our history. It must be preserved. I love the idea that Joe Mauro came up bringing back a street car that can be used as a shuttle. Little things like that make for a unique experience for both city residents and tourists.
I applaud the Heart of the City campaign. Galt Gardens has been utilized more than ever, the regular Farmer’s Market and new apartments in the downtown core are all great initiatives. Most of the candidates favor seeing a Performing Arts Centre in the downtown. On the down side there is ongoing concern about homelessness and drug use.
The forum had a different format compared to previous ones in that we were given 1 minute for an opening and 1 minute to answer all questions. That minute was strictly adhered to. Questions were posed by members of the media who did a great job of bringing up a number of issues giving candidates an opportunity to present their platforms.
Again I say as a first time candidate there is a huge learning curve for me. Each time I go out to one of these forums I feel I’m learning something new and that’s the way it’s going to be in this early going and if I’m fortunate enough to be elected I will continue to learn.
Next forum is put on by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night at the Lodge Hotel from 6:30-9pm. Hope to see you there.
Today Craig Baunton takes us to France for a nice red blend. (A good wine to have with an election campaign.)
The municipal election is just over a month away and I am one of 29 people vying for one of the eight seats on City Council. As I’ve said on numerous occasions to friends who have encouraged me to run in the past, I just didn’t think I had “the right stuff” for the job. So what’s changed? There was a lot of reflection and it really came down to the fact that this city has been great to me. When people like Clint Dunford, Rajko Dodic and Jeff Carlson talk about how special it’s been to be a public servant I think you have to listen. And I think it’s time to do something more than write a bunch of goofy tweets about Donald Trump or the Blue Jays. Do I have trepidation? Are people going to not like some of the decisions I make? Will I get roasted in Roasts & Toasts? Yes, yes and yes. I think you have to look at the big picture. You really can make a difference.
If I’m elected I think it’s going to be like my first day of College when I was told it was pajama day and I was the only one who showed up wearing them. It’s going to be awkward. But I’m going to learn. I’m going to be one voice on a team. I believe in team work and I believe in partnership. It’s going to be a major challenge for me to understand what governance is all about. But I’m at the point in my life where I I think I can handle it all.
But before I get ahead of myself there’s the campaign. There’s signs, brochures, buttons, ads and forums to deal with. People are going to be asking tough questions. I’m going to have to be ready for them.
I’m thankful that this is a one-month ordeal and not a two year marathon like a US election.
This week it’s a Meet & Greet at Harold’s Auto on Monday from 5:30-7:30, a SACPA forum on Tuesday at the Fritz Sick 6:30-9:30 and another Meet & Greet at the Nordbridge on Thursday from 1-3pm and Youth Advisory Forum from 6-8pm at the U of L Student’s Union Building. Hope you can come out and talk.