Chambers team up to host Sturgeon County forum
St. Albert/Morinville chamber forum tonight to draw 20 candidates
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 09, 2013 06:00 am
Cardiff Hall will become a storm of politics tonight as some 20 county candidates gather for the first all-candidates electoral forum in recent memory.
In a historic first, the St. Albert and Morinville chambers of commerce are teaming up to hold a Sturgeon County all-candidates forum this Oct. 9 at the Cardiff Community Hall.
This is the first time that the St. Albert and Morinville chambers have held a Sturgeon county forum, said Simon Boersma, president of the Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce. The idea came out of a meeting between himself and St. Albert chamber president Lynda Moffat, who lives in Cardiff.
It’s also the first time in recent memory that the county had held an all-candidates forum, Moffat said. Although common in St. Albert, most county forums tend to be for specific districts.
Sturgeon County is a very intricate part of Morinville, Boersma said, when asked why the two groups decided to hold this forum – the county’s head office is in town, and many local business owners live or work in the county. “We felt it was necessary for business to be able to come out to hear some of the candidates.”
Many St. Albert chamber members lived in the county, said Moffat, and wanted to encourage collaboration between St. Albert and Sturgeon County. By teaming up with Morinville, the St. Albert chamber hoped to give county residents the same opportunity that city voters had in most civic elections.
Wednesday’s forum will be open to all residents, Boersma said. Twenty out of the 21 county candidates have said they will be there, including mayoral candidates Tom Flynn and Don Rigney.
As there was no mayoral forum for the county in 2010 (Rigney was acclaimed) or 2007 (incumbent Helmut Hinteregger did not attend the forum, saying it was biased), this will be the first time since 2004 that two county mayoral candidates have faced off in a debate.
The forum will use the same format at the ones usually held during St. Albert civic elections, Boersma said: moderators will take written questions from the floor, sort them into categories, and pose them to candidates. “We like to ensure we don’t get doubles or triples of the same (question),” Boersma said.
This also prevents people from grandstanding before an open mike, Moffat said. “Everyone’s there to hear what the candidates have to say,” she said – not the audience members.
Candidates will draw lots before the forum and be sorted into groups of three, Moffat said. Each question will be posed to one of these groups, with each candidate in it having a chance to respond. Candidates will have one shot towards the end of the forum to address any previously asked question. They will also get to make opening and closing remarks.
Moderating the event will be Darel Baker, the past chair of the St. Albert chamber.
The forum runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Cardiff Community Hall, which can be reached by turning south onto Range Road 251 from Cardiff Road. Contact 780-458-2833 for details.