Yes, Morinville, you will get your All-Candidates Forum

MorinvilleNews.com editorial
By Stephen Dafoe

In the last municipal election, Morinville’s mayor and six councillors were acclaimed. Acclaimed is a nice way of succinctly saying there were not enough civically-minded people in this community willing to commit to the time needed to force an election.

At the time, Morinville’s mayor said that perhaps people were just too busy, what with the economic boom Morinville and the rest of Alberta was then experiencing.

There is certainly some truth to that, but why there were just enough names on nomination day 2007 to fill the cushions behind council’s oaken table is unimportant three years later. What is important is that this time, this election, democracy is alive and well in Morinville, and there is a buzz about this election that you can feel in the streets.

With two candidates for mayor, 10 for council and another three for school trustee, it is certain that come Oct. 18 there will be some broken hearts among the six people who have stepped up to the plate to seek our votes but whom did not get the numbers needed to achieve their goal.

As such, it is incumbent on all Morinville voters to not only vote, but to educate themselves so that they vote for the right people for each of the three public offices being sought by the 15 candidates.

Over the past few days, MorinvilleNews.com has been dominated with election coverage as we’ve tried to give you the opportunity to know who is running. Over the remainder of this week we will introduce you to those who we have yet to bring to your attention. I’m certain many of the candidates running in Morinville will take advantage of our open invitation to submit a guest editorial during the campaign, giving them an opportunity to tell their story and make their pitch in greater detail than a news story can do.

However, it is not enough, and because it is not enough, MorinvilleNews.com is partnering with Smith Music and the Morinville Fire Department to organize and host an All-Candidates Forum to be held at Smith Music (9917 100 Street) on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.

This will be your opportunity, five days before the election, to make yourself fully conversant with the views and positions of those vying for your vote on Oct. 18.

Morinville is fortunate to have 15 civically-minded people who are willing to make the personal sacrifices in time and energy to serve public office, but Morinville is also fortunate to have community-minded people like Paul Smith and Chief Ron Cust, who when asked, without a moment’s hesitation, made the commitment to add to their already busy agendas and play a role in bringing the residents of this community a forum that should be common place in every community in Alberta, large or small.

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9 Comments

  1. I have some thoughts on an all candidates form if you are interested.

    Here are SOME of them.

    Smiths will be too small.

    Two nights with perhaps mayors and trustees one night with councilors on anouther.

    People will wish to ask questions and with an 8pm start time they will not have time to ask questions once each of the 18 people say their opening remarks and rebute anything the others have to say. Unless we are there untill 11 or later that is. Quite often all are asked to answer the same question.

    Room to mingle both before and after the event is needed so people can ask one on one questions and get to meet the people seeking election.

    As always, I have an opinion.

    Joe

  2. We agree with Joe. Smith Music is too small. We want to be able to talk to the candidates (especially the new ones)and 8pm is too late a start. We predict a big turnout for this.

    • Thanks for the input, Councillor Gosselin. It is appreciated.

      The event is booked and already being advertised, and as I’ve said earlier, Smith Music can accomodate approximately 200 people.

      Traditionally speaking, All-Candidates Forums are organized and run by a Town’s Chamber of Commerce. This Town’s Chamber of Commerce, or at least its president, did not feel it was in the Chamber’s mandate to hold one and that the Chamber did not have the staff to organize such an event even if it was in their mandate. It was also suggested that perhaps candidates should probably organize and pay for it on their own.

      There were others in this community who felt differently about that and quite strongly so. They have gathered together to hold one where otherwise there might not be one AT ALL. They didn’t wait and see who else might step up and do it. They just made it happen because it was the right thing to do for the community.

      We won’t please everyone with this event.

      The venue may not be big enough to hold every one that would like to attend – time will tell.

      It may not be enough nights to please all concerned or the program, questions, comfort level of the chairs or size of the coffee cups might be criticized by those who attend.

      But you cannot please everyone and constant planning, discussions and tinkering ahead of the game leaves no time to actually put the game plan into play.

      Holding a separate night, as you suggest, might leave councillors with a thin audience as few people can give up two evenings in a row. We appreciate that jamming 15 candidates (not 18) into one night is ambitious, but we believe that people would sooner hang around for three hours or four, if need be, than to give up two evenings. It is the moderator’s job to ensure that candidates do not ramble on so as to give everyone candidate and questioner a fair hearing.

      We are looking into the possibility of having the whole evening simulcast on the web and I’m reasonably certain that we can take call in questions when the time comes for questions. At the very least, we anticipate the event will be recorded and rebroadcast on MorinvilleNews.com over the remaining days before the election for those unable to attend or those who cannot get in because there is so much interest in the future of the community that its standing room only.

  3. On behalf of the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce, I would like to commend your efforts to organize an all candidates forum.

    I would however like to clarify our postion on not holding a public forum;
    Traditionally, in most other communities, public forums are held by a number of different organizations. In some communities the Library hosts them, others the Rotary Club or other Community Service Groups, others the local newspapers. It is not specifically up to the local Chamber of Commerce to host a public forum, as many not unlike ourselves, do not have the resources or staff available to properly host such an event.

    However, our mandate is to be the advocate for the local business community. In an effort to support and educate the business community on the upcoming election issues, the Chamber is planning to host a forum for Chamber members and the business community at our October luncheon.

    For more information, please feel free to contact the Chamber office.

    • Jaye:

      You are quite right. Not all community’s Chambers host All-Candidates Forums. Morinville’s clearly isn’t. I’m sure other are also not holding them. Some are. Here are just a few:

      St. Paul & District Chamber of Commerce
      Airdrie Chamber of Commerce
      Camrose Chamber of Commerce
      Leduc Chamber Of Commerce

      I certainly respect that our Chamber (and I say that as a member) does not have the staff to facilitate such an event, and I agree that the Chamber’s role is to advocate for business, which you are clearly doing by inviting the candidates to the Chamber luncheon so that business owners can address questions of interest to business owners.

      I certainly commend the Chamber for honouring its mandate by inviting our candidates to speak with the business community and I look forward to asking the candidates a few questions of my own at that function.

      As to whether or not Morinville’s Chamber should have stepped up and organized one – we’ll simply have to agree to disagree.

  4. I respect your position, and very much do agree to disagree.

    I would like to address the fact that three out of the four chambers who are holding a public forum have a minimum of four times the membership, larger staff, and bigger budgets. This makes your comparison unfair.

    Again, as we discussed earlier this week, the responsibility of holding a PUBLIC forum is not a Chamber of Commerce mandate, and I am unsure of how the impression of the opposite has come to be. The Chamber is an advocate for business and we are responsible to our members, which is exactly what we are doing in hosting a business member forum at the October luncheon.

    As not only the Chamber President, but also a member of the Chamber, I would be quite disappointed to see that my membership dollars are being spent on organizing a public forum rather than what my membership benefits are there for – Networking, Promoting and Educating Chamber members. This not only applies to the direct costs involved in hosting an event of this nature, but also staffing costs to organize the event.

    Many Chamber programs are run with the strong volunteer base we have, however our volunteers are also currently overloaded with their existing committee work, not to mention the operations of their own businesses. It would also be unfair to ask them for more time commitments as well as contributions or donations to an event that would give them very little if any notoriety for their contribution.

    As you stated above – “We won’t please everyone…”

    Also, I should note that the one lone volunteer who approached the Chamber to operate a committee to organize a forum on the Chamber’s behalf, did so with a direct conflict of interest. Once realized that this conflict was apparent, they retracted their offer.

    We really do applaud your efforts in offering a venue for the candidates to be heard, especially with an election being such a community issue.

  5. Ladies and gentlemen we live in a free and democratic community/country. We are fighting amongst ourselves for the better good of Morinville. I am glad to see our citizens are just as concerned about our town as I am.

    Paul, Ron, and Stephen if you want to organize and run a debate good for you, I will be there and hope others who are running will be too and as many resident of Morinville can fit in Smith Music. I thank you for exercising your democratic rights.

    Jaye and the Chamber of Commerce I also would like to thank you for allowing the 2010 Election Candidates to speak (say a few words) to the business community of Morinville and District.

    I believe the reason for these functions are being put on, is that the residents of Morinville on Voting Day October 18 will have heard both sides of the story and then the Juror (elector) will make the decision on who will represent them best for the next 3 years and onward.

    I am open to speak to anyone or any organization who wishes to hear why and how we are going to move Morinville forward.

    • I don’t think we have a fight here at all, Councillor Trapani. What we have are people expressing their opinions and agreeing to disagree on the same.

  6. As a resident of Morinville, and someone who supports the business in Morinville, I have a huge issue with the comments made by Sheldon Fingler – Pres. Morinville & Dist. Chamber

    “Many Chamber programs are run with the strong volunteer base we have, however our volunteers are also currently overloaded with their existing committee work, not to mention the operations of their own businesses. It would also be unfair to ask them for more time commitments as well as contributions or donations to an event that would give them very little if any notoriety for their contribution.”

    This statement to me means that the Chamber thinks of no one but themselfs (‘very little if any notoriety for their contribution’) what better ‘notoriety’ then being involved with the community, by letting the community SEE and APPRECIATE the business that are involved?

    I may not be the smartest of the bunch, but I have always assumed that the Chamber was there for the business in the community and how to get the local businesses involved into the community so that us residents, are more aware of them and the support they have so that we would shop more ‘locally’ then going elsewhere. How am I, or any other resident to know of any NEW business, if not for their involvement?

    I think having an All Canidates form is not about ‘notoriety’ but about doing the ‘RIGHT THING’ and about making sure the voter elects the right people to make Morinville a strong community for everyone inculding the business people.

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